Manchester United have settled for a draw for the third match running in the Premier League after an eventful 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford. José Mourinho’s men may have responded well to going behind, but they still lacked direction for huge chunks of the match. Again United dropped points, and they now sit in 8th place, 18 points off the top.
Manchester United’s rough start to the season led many to believe that Mourinho’s days at Old Trafford were numbered. Even as United prepared to take the pitch against Newcastle United on Oct. 6 everyone believed Mourinho would most likely be sacked regardless of the result. Then a 3-2 comeback galvanized the team and fans. United won 4 of their next 6 in all competitions, and even the 2-2 draw at Chelsea seemed to inspire some confidence. Dramatic wins against Everton, Bournemouth, and even away at Juventus reminded the United faithful of the football they once saw regularly from the Reds. While José was by no means off the hot seat, fans started to believe that the run of luck/form/whatever could continue into the Manchester Derby and beyond. The Reds played as though their jobs depended on it, and produced some promising results, but then came the wake up call.
Manchester City overwhelmed United 3-1 at the Etihad through sheer force, delivering the result they should have gotten back in April. The result was a devastating one just before an untimely international break (when are they not), and the results since have proven indicative of that. Three straight draws, more awful defending, constant lineup changes, injuries, and a fresh wave of backroom drama rumors. United are a shell of their former selves.
Responding to adversity and failure is what sets champions apart from the pack in the Premier League. United fans know this better than anyone because they witnessed it for years under Sir Alex Ferguson. José Mourinho is not someone who responds to adversity. His success is the result of his system, but when his system fails he has no answer. He has often left clubs generally in better shape than when he arrived (Porto 2004, Chelsea 2007, Inter 2010, and Madrid 2013), but he also leaves after only a short stay, which isn’t long enough to overcome obstacles.
At Madrid he knocked off Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in a stunning 100 point La Liga campaign, but the next season Tito Vilanova’s Blaugranes roared back with a memorable title campaign of their own, and Mourinho left. In 2007, Mourinho left after a fallout with Roman Abramovich over management of the squad after losing the Premier League crown to Sir Alex’s rejuvenated United side. In 2015, Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea just months after winning the Premier League title. The Blues were nearing the relegation zone, and Abramovich decided immediate change was needed.
Now, again, action is needed. United are in shambles, and there is too much talent in the side to be wasted anymore under a directionless manager who leaves problems instead of solving them. There is no direction to United’s play, no organization in defense or midfield, and no guidance for a talented forward corps. José Mourinho was given a second chance by many after the Newcastle win, most notably the United owners and board, but it’s clear now that that chance is being wasted.