First things first. Congratulations to Manchester City. Their team is one of the finest to grace the Premier League and they are deserved champions. Pep Guardiola has learnt from his first season and improved a bunch of already top class players. They’ve rightly won it at a canter.
Now back to United. Well that was a colossal cock-up wasn’t it? West Brom are awful, have been all season and we went out with a whimper. That was the worst possible way to follow up last weeks’ derby triumph.
So what can this United team do, if anything, to close the gap to City next season?
Win the FA Cup
Winning trophies fosters the mentality you need for title challenges. If United take the FA Cup that will be three major trophies in two seasons for Mourinho and his squad. They’ll be getting used to the feeling and will develop the nous and mentality to hold their nerve when the pressure’s on. Mourinho said after the West Brom game that he knows how to win. But his players don’t. Another trophy should help give them an idea of how.
But – and this is a big but – does anyone fancy us to beat Spurs in this weekends’ semi-final after the showing against West Brom and our earlier Wembley performance this season?
Invest in the defence
What is it with United centre-backs? Why are they always injured? It’s clear Phil Jones and Chris Smalling haven’t developed into the players we hoped they would. Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly have the potential, but they seem to have gone the way of Jones and Smalling in the injury stakes. United need two reliable, world class, ever present centre halves to stand any chance of stopping City next season. Vidic and Ferdinand seems a long time ago now. And as for Jaap Stam…
Improve in the final third
There’s nothing quite as depressing as hearing chants of “attack, attack, attack” emanating from the Stretford End. Louis van Gaal can probably still hear it every time he shuts his eyes and Mourinho has escaped it for most of his United career. But it was very present on Sunday.
Going forward, United were static, slow and uninspiring against West Brom. And it’s been this way for weeks – despite winning five on the bounce and beating City. It’s like we just don’t know how to attack anymore, which is ridiculous considering the talent and attacking riches in the squad.
The likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial should be in the team every week with the shackles taken off. They are playing second fiddle to an out of sorts Alexis Sanchez instead.
It’s hardly surprising then that Martial apparently turned down the offer of a five-year contract last week. This needs sorting.
Forge an identity
Fergie’s reign is no more. It’s no good continually harping back to how we used to play under him. Football is different now and there are new challenges to face. United must find their place in the modern Premier League. The manager must decide on the right blend of attacking football to get the best out of the players and entertain the fans. Mourinho’s defensive style isn’t working. He needs to adapt and change. Otherwise United will fall further behind next season.
Stop obsessing over egos and build a team
The modern United fan seems happy and excited with a big money signing every transfer window. But how many of them work out?
Sanchez is the latest and there still doesn’t seem like a natural place for him in the side. His presence is also clearly hampering younger talents who were thriving before his arrival.
This summer there’s no doubt United need to spend. But they must do it wisely. Forget the marque signings, we’d be much better served with four or five players who fit naturally in the team and can actually improve us.
The team should always be greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve been the wrong way round for ages now. Mourinho has to change this to be a success at United.
If we don’t do all the above, we’ll be even further behind City next season as Pep will no doubt be adding to his squad wisely in the summer.
Is there a more depressing thought than that?
Yes, there is. Liverpool winning the Champions League.