What Jose Mourinho Is Achieving With THAT Manchester United Defence Is Nothing Short Of Miraculous

Posted: March 16, 2017 in Chelsea, European Football, Football, Jose Mourinho, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Manchester United’s problem is scoring goals, or rather, not scoring goals. Their total for the season would be abysmal if Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s tally were to be taken out of the equation.

When United signed the Swede along with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, it appeared to go a long way to addressing the goalscoring side of things. The fact that he only signed one defender, Eric Bailly, did not necessarily mean that he was happy with what he had, more that there was a shortage of world class defenders available.

So, when the season began most people, ourselves included, sat back and waited for the goals to flow. They didn’t, other than for Ibrahimovic. Pogba struggled to find form in the early stages of the season and Mkhitaryan was having some personal issues, or so we are led to believe. Anyway, he wasn’t in the team very often and, consequently, didn’t score many goals.

At present neither of the two midfield players signed with Ibrahimovic have scored the amount of goals with which they would be happy. Recently, Mkhitaryan is beginning to show signs that he is getting there with some man-of-the-match performances and a few goals but Pogba is still struggling to find the net anywhere near regularly enough.

The fact that United are still well in touch with the top four places is, therefore, somewhat surprising given their lack of goals. It is due, in fact, to their not conceding many and having some of the best defensive statistics in the Premier League.

The regular right back is a winger. The players who have rotated the left back position are a defensive midfielder, a centre back and, very occasionally, an actual left back. The centre backs have included the same defensive midfielder who has stood in at left back and, more usually, two of four genuine centre backs.

Phil Jones is injury-prone and tends to defend in the way you would expect a chicken, shortly after being decapitated, to defend.

Chris Smalling has never been, and never will be the quality of player United fans should expect to see at Old Trafford. He is a penalty waiting to happen. Poor positioning, mistimed tackles and woeful distribution mean that the only real surprises with this player are that he is still at Manchester United and, even more unbelievably, that he is given the captains armband quite regularly.

Marcos Rojo has been playing quite well of late, as has Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia and with David De Gea his usual reliable self between the posts, this unlikely ensemble have managed to keep a few clean sheets and, in many other games, have restricted their opponents to one goal. The great shame about this season is that their opponents have usually managed to restrict Manchester United to one goal or less.

It is expected that Mourinho will strengthen the defence in the Summer transfer window and, if this happens, United will only be stronger next season.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the next transfer window is that he needs, more urgently, to find somebody to share the goal burden with Ibrahimovic, or A. N. Other if Ibra decides not to stay at United next term, which is still a possibility..

This was a scenario which probably didn’t occur to the majority of United fans when the season kicked off back in August. They will have thought that the goalscoring was sorted out and would have been hoping that the defence could hold out until the January window.

Thanks to Jose Mourinho and his own particular brand of wizardry for getting the best out of average players, the defence has held together for all of the season so far, let’s hope it continues to do so until the end.

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