There used to be a time when nighttime football at Old Trafford was a sight to be seen. Clubs would arrive fearful of the next 90 minutes. Would they depart Manchester, although short of three points, with their dignity intact? Or, would their mediocre performances serve as a cynical memory each time their names escaped from a pundit’s mouth?
Well, those days are long gone, and if Manchester United’s miserable performance against Tottenham Hotspur Monday night revealed a major thing, it’s that football under the bright lights of the Theatre of Dreams has seen better days.
For those lucky enough to have missed the match, the Red Devils absolutely collapsed against Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Despite a strong showing in the first half, it only took two minutes early in the second for José Mourinho’s squad to crumble before our eyes, furthermore reminding fans that this invincible offense just isn’t what it used to be.
The defense proved they aren’t equipped to handle a dominant Big Six attack, either. Not only did we let Harry Kane score in August, we let Harry Kane open his score account at Old Trafford IN August!
“Lads, it’s Tottenham” shall remain in the Sir Alex Ferguson days.
Despite being on a two-match losing streak, for the time being (until the Glazer Family reach a deal with Zinedine Zidane), it appears Mou will keep his job as manager. Once revered as only man worthy of making United fans forget the dismal days of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, those same fans are now calling for the alleged “Special One” to rid Manchester of its misery.
His inconsistent post-match interviews coupled with his inefficiency at crafting a sensible starting XI has in turn made Mou the laughing stock of Premier League managers. Despite his proven track records as a domestic and Champions League victor, there’s an arguable character trait between the personality Mourinho has exhibited in recent months and the Mourinho the public was first introduced to many years ago.
In short, José Mourinho has morphed into the personality of the managers he used to mimic in his prime.
Through his impeccably designed roster and his ability to squeeze the absolute potential out of players, Mou was the man most managers hoped to become. In his first year as manager of Inter Milan in 2008, his side went on to not only become Supercoppa Italiana champions, but also cruised to the top of the Serie A table. Let’s not forget their impressive Champions League campaign. At Real Madrid, he arguably revived the lost form of Mesut Özil and Ángel Di Maria. Even though it’s evident he prefers experience to youth development, he had a tactical instinct that recognized how to utilize players in creative ways.
His ability to stifle longtime rival Pep Guardiola from adding Alexis Sánchez to his league-winning side in January was a celebrated accomplishment for fans and critics alike. However, his inability to properly incorporate the Chilean’s skill into his current offense certainly doesn’t leave Arsenal fans mourning the departure of United’s new number 7.
Mourinho used to be in control of the rivalries he created. Never mind that he was going head-to-head with Arsene Wenger or Rafa Benitez, when Mou sought you out as his adversary, he let his success on the pitch do the rest of the talking.
The boss would meet his most iconic foe Antonio Conte for the last time as two Premier League bosses earlier this year in the FA Cup finals. The task of managing Chelsea for another year was contingent on a victory, and naturally another point on the board of bragging rights for whomever reined supreme.
Much like the Tottenham loss, the catastrophe at Wembley in May exposed many of Mourinho’s weaknesses: out of form players, no cohesion in the back and no fundamental attack strategy up top. By the end of the match, the entire United XI transitioned from confidence to desperation. A win couldn’t save Conte from a Stamford Bridge departure, but it sure allowed him the last word (for now) in their bitter feud. Any remarks about Chelsea’s form pre-match were irrelevant, as the final score solidified Mourinho’s 2017-2018 run a trophy-less endeavor.
For a club rooted in traditional attack-minded football, José Mourinho’s defensive methodology was always going to be a point of contention for Manchester United fans. His spats with the media, internal quarrels with Ed Woodward and lack of control in the dressing room have furthermore added insult to injury. The Portuguese Special One isn’t down and out yet, but serious humility must take form in order to censor anymore talks of the most victorious English side being a mockery in their latest Premier League campaign.