Manchester United manager Mourinho needs to work on his own big flaw

Jose Mourinho has put on a complete display of the array of the negatives of his personality, tactics and man-management style over the past week.

Young players that are by their very nature inconsistent have been ostracised for being inconsistent, creative players have had their confidence shattered and Mourinho has blamed everyone but himself for the number of points dropped due to draws.

Manchester United fans were aware of these unsavoury traits before he joined the club but the hope amongst many was that he would embrace the traditions of the club and/or learn from his previous mistakes.

While Jose Mourinho has talked a good game on attacking football, other than signing quality attacking players, he doesn’t seem to have put much into place on the training pitch to gel those players together and deliver on that.

There has been a trend throughout his career that while his defence and midfield organisation was thorough, well-thought and well-drilled, his work on what happens in the final third of the pitch left a lot to be desired.

The best attacking football his teams have produced in the past has often been through rapid, incisive counter-attacks. This is not an option at home for Manchester United against teams that sit in a deep block and play Mourinho at his own game.

During his periods of success at Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Chelsea, he had quality experienced attacking players simultaneously on form and on the same wavelength that could combine instinctively at will, for example, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo or Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

This season a similar fruitful attacking partnership has not emerged and the lack of direction from the manager on how to overcome that has been a further hindrance. There is no discernible overarching design to how the team attacks, it is rather aimless. Eden Hazard hinted at this underlying problem in an interview with Sky Sports earlier this year:

‘In tactics and training we do more with Conte. We work a lot of tactical positions and we know exactly what we have to do on the pitch…With Mourinho, he put in a system but we didn’t work lots. We know what to do because we play football, but maybe the automatisms were a little bit different.

Jose Mourinho loves creative players if they are regularly producing goals/assists but as soon as they are not, they are jettisoned, criticised and ostracised in equal measure, which often has the effect of further reducing their output.

Players that work hard and do what he wants off the ball are then preferred, best shown by his recent treatment of Anthony Martial compared to Jesse Lingard.

That Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford looked like more dynamic, vibrant players under Louis van Gaal is quite an indictment on Mourinho’s approach to young attacking players.

A narrative amongst some groups of fans this season has been to join Mourinho in criticising the players for not finishing the chances that are there. The number of shots the team takes at home is banded about to suggest it is the players fault for not scoring.

Closer inspection of the statistics show that Manchester United are actually mediocre when it comes to the number of chances attempted inside the area, probably because the patterns of play are not there to create chances in the best areas.

A lack of nuance when it comes to attacking tactics and a lack of understanding with attacking players is proving to be a  debilitating double-flaw for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.

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