Talking Soccer: What is happening to Manchester United?

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, right, protects the ball from Watford's Craig Cathcart during the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road in London, Sunday Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

What is happening at Manchester United? After starting off the season on good ground with wins against Leicester, Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull, the team has lost three games in the span of a single week. After losing to rivals Manchester City, the United lost away in the Europa League to Dutch team Feyenoord before losing again to Watford.

Not only did Mourinho’s star studded side not take away three points from a lesser Watford, they looked incredibly dull and lacking in their midfield. Wayne Rooney showed his absolute lack of skill in this game, moving sluggishly and making poor decisions consistently in the final third.

If Rooney were on Watford for that game he wouldn’t be playing the next one, he slowed down the tempo of the offense and lowered the cohesion between the entire attacking force. It’s hardly fair to blame just Rooney, however, as he has not shown the glimmer he was once known for in at least two seasons and is not the only player in the midfield who has disappointed. Pogba has not lived up to the money spent on him, and makes tactical mistakes defensively at a rate almost as bad as his partner at central defensive midfielder, Marouane Fellaini.

If Mourinho hopes to win games in the Premier League he is going to have to change the balance in his midfield so that somebody can actually provide support for their defense. Fellaini even told French station SFR Sport that there is a bit of a crisis at Manchester United because a club of its size cannot be losing three games in a row. He is right, but the fact that after a string of bad losses there is already talk of a crisis means the team is not focused mentally for the long and hard Premier League season.

The problem, of course, is that the Portuguese coach refuses to drop Fellaini or Rooney and simply cannot put Pogba on the bench after the money they splurged on him. If Mourinho wants to help his team he should drop Rooney from the central attacking midfield area (or maybe not let him play a full 90 minutes) in favor of Juan Mata, a player who is best in the center of the midfield but never manages to be played there because of Rooney.

The attack looks to be relying completely on Ibrahimovic to score wonder goals for their team, but when it doesn’t happen the entire team looks laid back, unmotivated, and lacking in tactics as well as goals. Marcus Rashford has proven to be one of the only bright spots at Manchester United and should be much more involved with the offense. I would even say Michael Carrick should be playing more in place of Fellaini because he has always been consistent for the club and shows he has the capacity to realize when Pogba and Rooney abandon their defensive responsibilities and adapt in order to help their back four defend.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.