The early-season optimism at Old Trafford has evaporated during a miserable eight-day period in which Manchester United have lost three straight games under Jose Mourinho, including a first defeat to Watford in over 30 years.
So, the Ladbrokes News team have spent much of today discussing how the Portuguese gaffer can fix a United side in a serious slump. Here’s what we reckon…
Drop Wayne Rooney
It’s hard to know how the 30-year-old forward continues to start for the Red Devils week in, week out, but he does. Just two goals in his last 21 club games, combined with dismal all-round displays have seen the former Everton man become the main focus of United fans’ ire.
Against Watford, Rooney failed to create a single chance in open play, didn’t produce a successful through ball, and only two of his set-pieces created an opening for teammates. Mourinho has made a career from his willingness to take big decisions, and needs to do so again by dropping the sloppy striker.
Start Marcus Rashford
With Rooney sometimes preferred in midfield to attack, this might not be a like-for-like switch, but there’s no doubt that Rashford should be starting up front for the Red Devils – whoever he’s competing against for places.
Seven Premier League goals in fourteen starts are only half the story for an ice-cool finisher who broke records – and Manchester City hearts – last season, as the youngest ever goalscorer in a Manchester Derby.
Not only will regular gametime ensure the progression of a fantastic young talent, but with Rooney seemingly past his best and Anthony Martial devoid of confidence, Rashford is the United need leading the line right here, right now. Their only bright spark against Watford, just imagine what he could do with good midfield service?
Pair Pogba with experience
It’s no secret that world-record signing Paul Pogba has struggled to find his feet on his return to the club, with his impressive debut display against Southampton followed by several limp displays.
But with the Frenchman adapting to life in the Premier League, surely Mourinho is best to pair him with the experienced, classy passing midfielder that is Michael Carrick. And not only would it help Pogba find his stride in English football, but their flair-and-physicality combination would be an ideal mix for United’s style.
Make the play more direct
It seems like the Old Trafford faithful have been saying this forever, with every United manager since Sir Alex Ferguson accused of playing overly-cautious, aimless passing football. And the dire displays United served up at Watford and Feyenoord saw those criticisms fairly and squarely levelled at Mourinho.
If the Red Devils gaffer is going to continue playing the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, they need to develop more of an aerial threat, while their lack of balls through (and over) the defence mean that Marcus Rashford’s electric pace is often wasted.
Those confident Mourinho will turn United’s slump around and enjoy a season of success can back the Red Devils to win the Premier League at the juicy price of 12/1, while they’re 8/13 to finish in the top four.
Next up in the Premier League is the visit of Leicester City, with United 4/6 to return to winning ways this weekend with three points against the hit-and-miss champions.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing