While Manchester United are languishing in seventh spot on the Premier League table, club legend Phil Neville believes there is still hope for the side that are reeling from the aftermath of a catastrophic 4-0 drubbing at the hands of a ruthless Chelsea side
Jose Mourinho played his cards absolutely wrong on his homecoming at Stamford Bridge, and was handed a footballing lesson by his opposite number Antonio Conte. Chelsea started the game on the front foot and took the lead in the very first minute of the game.
After putting up a defensive display of the highest order six days ago against Liverpool, things went horribly south for the Manchester United back line. A mix-up between Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and goalkeeper David de Gea saw Pedro slot the ball into an empty net. Minutes later, the much-maligned Gary Cahill defied his critics after scoring Chelsea’s second.
Eden Hazard and new recruit N’Golo Kante added fuel to the fire as they chipped in with goals of their own in the second period, to demolish a hapless United outfit. A 4-0 defeat was the heaviest defeat inflicted by Jose Mourinho in the Premier League, and it also meant that his side had already lost three of their first nine games.
Since its inception in 1992, no team has managed to win the Premier League after losing more than six games. Mourinho already finds his side halfway there with less than a quarter of the games played. While many “Einsteins”, as the Portuguese likes to call them, have written off United’s title challenge, Old Trafford faithful Phil Neville believes there still is a ray of hope for them.
According to the BBC, Neville said: “From what I saw from United in their 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, I don’t think they are anywhere near the level that their manager Jose Mourinho wants them to be at, and it will probably take them a lot more time to get there.
“But what I would add is that they have come out of a period of tough games, and they are going into a spell where their fixtures look a lot more winnable. The next few weeks are an important time for them because you don’t win the league by beating the clubs around you – you win it by beating everyone else.
“Yes, United need to go on a run to make up the ground they have lost but they are only six points off the top of the table and we have already seen things can change very quickly in the title race.”
United’s next game is against their local rivals Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, after which they continue their domestic campaign at home against newly-promoted Burnley. The Clarets have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign, and find themselves sitting in 14th place on the table.
Sean Dyche’s pragmatic nature is not going to make it any easier for Mourinho’s side to break them down. Burnley are the only team in the league to beat Liverpool this season and nearly stole a point off Arsenal, too. While it may not have come at the best of times for them, failure to win this one could see United drift further away from the pile.