When asked at a press conference if he was confident of challenging for the Premier League title, Manchester United manager José Mourinho said: “I don’t answer your question.”

The Portuguese boss remained silent when journalists followed up with why he wouldn’t answer it. It was a damning indictment of where the manager currently thinks his squad are at in terms of their development, as well as a stinging blow to the fans who were beginning to become excited for the dawn of the new season.

It’s now not uncommon to see Mourinho in a very brash and brazen mood. Since his tumultuous time at Real Madrid ended in 2013 with the coach saying ‘it was the worst season of my career’, he has been sucked into this character of misery and doom for the most part.

 

That character Mourinho portrays to the media soon fell on deaf ears in the Chelsea ranks, with fans growing greatly disinterested in what the manager had to say and soon turned their backs on him, causing the powers that be to make a decision and axe him halfway through his third season.

His precision is precarious and it’s no surprise that Mourinho is the second favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.

The former treble winner with Inter is now fast approaching his third season with Manchester United, and has very little to show in the Premier League for it. After finishing sixth in his opening campaign to coming second, but so far from winners Manchester City, the Red Devils have simply got to challenge this year out or there will be serious questions being asked.

Mourinho has spent over £370 million since arriving in the summer of 2016, and yet there are still glaring holes in the squad that have, bemusingly to fans, not been filled. With split accounts over who is to blame for that – Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, has come under criticism – the Red Devils are not far off from going into a brand new campaign with a weakened back four and overall team compared to what they had last season.

Mourinho United

Of course, the World Cup plays into that with those players making it deep into the competition having a longer period on holiday, but United’s problems at left back, central defence and right wing have been apparent for a number of years now. This has not just happened overnight.

Manchester United are, supposedly, reluctant to sanction a £45 million fee in order to prize Juventus’ left back, Alex Sandro, away from Italy, which leaves Mourinho with Ashley Young, who is still on holiday after his exploits with England, and Luke Shaw, a player who the manager has openly criticised time and time again over a lack of commitment and fitness.

To go into a season without a confident and assured left back is shambolic. Especially given senior figures at the club continue to claim they are the ‘biggest club on the planet’ – a statement which has so far not been backed up by their accolades on the pitch.

Mourinho is reportedly interested in Leicester City’s Harry Maguire, who had a standout World Cup with the Three Lions and will now have had his price tag massively inflated. The centre back is a traditional Mourinho defender – tall, strong in the air and, perhaps surprisingly, can play with his feet.

Mourinho United

But with only a few weeks left of the summer transfer window in England to go, there is every chance that such a deal could take longer with complications that stand in their way. The same can be said with their pursuit of a natural right winger. United have stuttered and stalled over the past month with the World Cup taking place that they now have so much to do in such a short amount of time, which is where Mourinho’s frustrations lie.

Away from the market, part of the problem for fans last season was Mourinho’s negative tactics. It wasn’t about sitting deep and countering teams when going up against strongerteams in the league and in Europe, it was more to do with the fact that these tactics were used against the likes of Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion – two teams that took three points away from the Red Devils.

Highlighted by his very defensive demands of star midfielder Paul Pogba, Mourinho needs to release the shackles on the system at times to allow these incredibly creative individuals can wreak havoc. There is always a time and a place to be more reserved in the team’s approach, but against clubs where there should really only be one outcome, the Portuguese boss simply has to allow and trust his players in a more offensive manner.

Fans will not sit back in the Stretford End much longer if they have to witness their team play with such caution and timidness. While Sir Alex Ferguson did not go for the jugular every single game, his teams were able to express themselves more freely on the pitch and looked like they were enjoying themselves while out there.

Pogba will not stick around forever if he continues to feel like he is being misused. The French World Cup winner appreciates his value and what he can bring to a team, and that is not being pinned back in his own half carrying out defensive duties against lesser opposition.

It is a big season for Mourinho to show that he is not a doom and gloom caricature of himself. He must find a way to break through to Woodward and bring in more players for his disposal, as well as altering his system, otherwise, he risks an early departure from his tenure at Manchester United.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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