Jose Mourinho has a lot to analyse as his Manchester United side received a 4-0 battering at the hands of Chelsea on the occasion of his homecoming at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Millions of Manchester United fans around the globe watched in horror as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea ripped the Red Devils’ defence apart with two goals in each half to set up a convincing 4-0 win on Sunday.
Although the spotlight was very much on Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge in the buildup to the game, Conte’s tactical masterclass dominated the talking points in the aftermath of the Blues’ stunning victory. Chelsea began their domination from the get-go and a Pedro goal after just half a minute was an ominous sign of things to come.
Further goals from Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante set up a brilliant win for Conte, whose 3-4-3 switch at Chelsea seems to be paying off. TheHardTackle takes a look at five talking points from the game from Manchester United’s points of view.
1. Arrogance has a cost, Jose
Jose Mourinho is a manager who has often triumphed despite his unrelenting preference to play one player over another who appears to be a better fit to the squad. The Portuguese has similarly preferred Marouane Fellaini over the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick, leaving a lot of fans baffled.
Why does José Mourinho keep using Fellaini when he has other options such as Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Carrick, Confusing. #mufc
— Mancunián (@ManUnitedWriter) October 23, 2016
Sweinsteiger rotting away cant get a kick but Fellaini plays week in week out. Carrick and Schneiderlin cant get a look in either. #baffling
— James Hall (@JamesHall_MUFC) October 24, 2016
The choice to start Fellaini on Sunday was one of the major factors that contributed to United’s undoing. Fellaini, who lacks the touch or vision of the players mentioned above, slowed the Red Devils’ buildup and largely restricted Paul Pogba to deeper areas in midfield.
The likes of Carrick, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger are available, but we continue to start Fellaini. That’s embarrassing.
— (@ManUnitedFanII) October 23, 2016
While Mourinho has already declared that Schweinsteiger does not have a place in his squad, Schneiderlin is a better fit than Fellaini defensively and Carrick is an upgrade on the Belgian offensively. The defeat is likely to give Mourinho food for thought with respect to his midfield pivot and the inclusion of Fellaini.
2. Wasteful Zlatan needs to be benched; Mourinho risks wasting Rashford’s talent
Zlatan announced himself to the Premier League with a bang as he scored the winner against Leicester City in the Community Shield while also scoring a long range pile-driver against Bournemouth in the Premier League opener. United have unravelled since then and the Swede has now failed to score in his last five games for the club.
Zlatan is 498 minutes without a league goal, his worse run since 2006. pic.twitter.com/KY3zFqvFOh
— Coral (@Coral) October 24, 2016
Marcus Rashford, who shone in a central role under Louis van Gaal as also at the beginning of the current campaign, does not seem to have the same impact while on the wing. The 4-2-3-1 formation which Mourinho is so persistent in deploying does not appear to work with a slow lone forward in Zlatan.
The formation and United’s playing style is crying out for a dynamic forward who can run at and past defenders, a forward that the defenders are scared to face in one on one situations, a forward like Rashford who is readily available to Mourinho.
I’ll start watching maybe when Rashford starts playing as CF. Martial starting.
— Thando Shawa (@officialShawa) October 24, 2016
The Swede needs benching, Rashford has to play up front, Martial left and Mkhitaryan must be integrated. Attacking talent is there.
— Richard Cann (@RichardCann76) October 23, 2016
What Zlatan offers United is his height and his ability to head the ball, but even that seems to have deserted the veteran, with his headers off the mark in the recent past, including last night at Stamford Bridge. Maybe it is time for Mourinho to start putting more trust in the youth at Manchester United.
3. Manchester United may have lost but the travelling United fans did themselves proud
Manchester United has often been dubbed as a real fans’ club. The fans are its backbone, their 12th man. On Sunday night, the Red Devils went down 4-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the travelling United supporters made their presence felt throughout the game.
— Red Army! (@RedorDead07) October 23, 2016
Chelsea 4-0 up and still being out sung by United fans. Says absolutely everything. #FullTimeSween
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) October 23, 2016
United may have lost the game, but the away fans made sure they never lost the battle in the stands. Their unrelenting, vociferous support prompted Conte to gesture to the Chelsea crowd to up their volume even with the score at 4-0, which Mourinho was not best pleased about.
However, it just goes to show the incredible support of the United fans and emphasises the fact that the players should feel blessed to have the opportunity to play for a club with such a passionate fanbase. The players may have disappointed the fans on the night, but the fans showed that they have their players’ back no matter the outcome, which should spur the players on to deliver better performances in the future.
4. The need to instil some passion into the players at United
Of all the other negatives, this is arguably the one that deserves the most attention. Losing is a part of the game, but it is the reaction to defeat that often sums up one’s desire to win. Never before had Manchester United fans seen — at least not during the Alex Ferguson era — players smiling after being drubbed 4-0 or worse by a rival like Chelsea.
Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and many others jumped on the players’ case after the full-time whistle as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was seen smiling and exchanging shirts as if he was on the winning side of a 4-0 scoreline. The legends were baffled by the behaviour, with some fans labelling it unacceptable.
United’s problem in pictures. Multi millionaires who don’t give a dam about humiliating the fans who pay their wages pic.twitter.com/iJow0vNbSi
— 9GAG Football ⚽ (@9GAGFootball) October 23, 2016
The fans are proof of the passion that drives the club and it would be wonderful if the players could, to some degree, mirror the heart of their supporters. Manchester United players did not go near the travelling fans after the end of the match to show their appreciation for their relentless support, which has angered a lot of them.
— Peter Bolton (@PeterBolton3) October 24, 2016
Fans and experts stated that the players would have faced Ferguson’s wrath for their behaviour past the full-time whistle had the Scot been manager, and it is about time Jose Mourinho lays down a similar marker.
5. David Luiz’s red card-worthy tackle might have changed the course of the game
Manchester United were outplayed on the night, there are no two ways about it. However, at 2-0 down, the game might have panned out differently had Chelsea’s Brazilian centre-back David Luiz received his marching orders for his tackle near the end of the first half.
This tackle was definitely a red card challenge by David Luiz. https://t.co/w9st1ODorG
— MU Live (@mu90live) October 24, 2016
Definite red card for David Luiz. Disgusting challenge.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) October 23, 2016
The Brazilian connected head on with Fellaini’s knee — a clear red card offence given the high and reckless nature challenge. However the referee chose to show Luiz only a yellow card. There is no telling how the game would have gone, but Manchester United could have clawed their way back with the man advantage.
At the end of the day, Chelsea were deserving winners, but the decision may just have robbed United of any possible chance to get back into the match.