Jose Mourinho suffered one of the worst days of his managerial career at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Manchester United were thumped 4-0 by a Chelsea side who never had to get out of second gear.
The latest humbling in a season which had already seen the Red Devils lose to Watford, Feyenoord and at home to fierce rivals Manchester City, the result at Stamford Bridge has heaped further pressure on the Red Devils gaffer.
Now just 7/2 to leave the club by next summer and cut to 10s to exit by Christmas, the Ladbrokes News team – complete with a pained United fan – have been hotly debating what’s gone wrong for Jose…and how he can fix his mistakes.
The failure to buy new full-backs
While United boast plenty of talent in most positions – at least on paper – they’re desperately short on options at full-back.
Luke Shaw is the club’s only senior left-back, and the defender’s fitness and – arguably – flab mean that despite his undeniable natural talent, he’s far from able to offer the energy and reliability needed to command the position.
Across the pitch, Matteo Darmian’s disappointing displays under Louis van Gaal should have signalled the need for a new right-back. Instead, Mourinho has unsuccessfully tried to convert ageing winger Antonio Valencia into a full-back.
Jordi Amat and David Alaba have the required class, experience and pace at left-back to be aggressively targeted in January, while youth team prodigy Joe Riley deserves a chance in the meantime.
On the other flank, Darmian perhaps deserves more game time in favour of the ill-fitting Valencia, while former transfer target Kevin Grosskreutz could be a short-term solution on the cheap.
He hasn’t instilled enough passion
It’s a well-worn footballing cliché that one team ‘wants it more’, but the way in which United tamely surrendered to Chelsea on and off the pitch makes it a compelling argument in this case. And the Red Devils gaffer needs to fix that immediately.
The scenes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and David de Gea grinning and joking with their opposite numbers after the 4-0 hiding at the Bridge showed a lack of the ‘us against them’ mentality which made United sides of old so imperious.
That attitude was also a huge part of Chelsea’s early success under the divisive Portuguese gaffer. The sooner he toughens up or ships out the players who look happy to lose games 4-0, the quicker United can return to their imperious best.
Carrick has been underused
Having won nine major honours in over a decade at the club, the 35-year-old remains one of the last remaining links with the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.
He’s also the ideal foil for Paul Pogba, who transforms from midfield mess to maestro with the veteran midfielder alongside him – with the former starring and netting twice against Fenerbahce, as Carrick took charge of the tidy passing to enable the Frenchman be at his dynamic best.
The fact the former Tottenham man’s dynamic displays against Northampton Town and Fener have resulted in just 12 minutes of Premier League game time is an astonishing stat – and one that reflects badly on Mourinho.
Pogba and Carrick have to play in central midfield together against Manchester City on Wednesday night. It’s as simple as that.
Meanwhile, those confident that Mourinho can turn the side’s fortunes around long-term can back United at 6/5 to finish in the Premier League top four this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing