After what we thought was a hapless, usual, and revolting first half, a couple of tactical changes from José Mourinho saw us win the game in the last 20 minutes. The previous week was strewn with rumours saying that the Newcastle game was José’s last game in charge regardless of the result. Tonnes of rumours and a passionate Gary Neville rant later, we were down 2-0 to Newcastle at home. At that point, all the news articles made sense. But after the second half, it just doesn’t seem as likely.
As I mentioned earlier in a tweet, I’m certain no one is getting carried away with this result but what happened in that second half was something this football club really needed. The toxicity between those in the dressing room, the hierarchy of authorities and the fans was overflowing and despite all that, everyone just put their agendas aside for a while and watched the club make a comeback in the dying moments at the Stretford End.
The fact that our players could turn the game around in just a matter of a few minutes says a lot about them. First of all, it is a compliment to their mental strength. The players needed a bit of a gateway and that came through Juan Mata’s beautiful free-kick, twenty minutes from time. Second, while celebrating the Alexis Sanchez winner, a few sane and rational ones were asking where this United were all season? All of a sudden our passing was slick, our crosses were actually reaching the box, and we had 10 shots on target. With this new side that was exposed to us, the obvious question is, what happens to United now?
|Image Source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk|
There are two ways of approaching the question, the first is what happens to us in the long term. In the long term, José Mourinho gets the sack by December after we fail to impress against Chelsea, Mnachester City, or Juventus. If we lose two games in the Champions League there is a high chance of getting demoted to the Europa League. Along with that, since our top 4 hopes have diminished, playing in Europe’s second tier will be a big hit to us and Ed Woodward. To avoid that, the board will want to make changes sooner than later.
In the short term, have we turned a corner? No. I hope we have because the way we played in the last twenty minutes was amazing. Had that team turned up earlier in the season, we wouldn’t be in this quagmire in the first place. Now we need to wait and see if this team continues or if the dull and lifeless performance of the first half persists.
I feel that Mourinho has not lost the dressing room yet because the players who orchestrated the win against Newcastle were Pogba, Alexis, and Mata – the players he’s supposed to have a rift with. Why would they turn up all of a sudden to save his job? Maybe to show the new manager what they can do given a little freedom, but that seems unlikely. Like Gary Neville said, if the board are to sack Mourinho now, he’ll go down a martyr while the Glazers continue to face the heat from the fans. The support for José is very high at the moment because everyone is seeing the pattern now. He steadied a ship and helped us finish second last season. The board should have backed him and helped him finish what he started.
This is something other managers will look at before joining us should José get the sack. If they know they won’t be backed, they’d rather go to another club such as Bayern or Real Madrid. So, the problems are much deeper than the manager. If we do get a new manager I am about 90 percent sure that I will be writing a similar article in three years time. A managerial change will only delay the inevitable again. There are issues ingrained deep in the core that can not be changed unless we get a director of football. A new manager might help us sneak into the top 4 but the underlying issues will still remain.