Jose Mourinho is in a crisis at Manchester United and he has brought it on himself

Trevor Steven
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Watford v Manchester United - Premier League
Mourinho has lost his last three matches at Manchester United (Source: Getty)

Let’s be brutally honest: three defeats in a row mean that Jose Mourinho is already in crisis just a few weeks into his reign as manager of Manchester United.

I know what it’s like at a team where you’re expected to win every game. When I played at Rangers one defeat was a crisis; two was a serious crisis. That’s what big clubs are all about.

United are huge because of their historical success, but the last few seasons have eroded their brand. Both they and Mourinho need this appointment to work; the stakes are now very high.

Read more: Is Manchester United's business model a busted flush?

Mourinho has been quick to blame certain players, but he has to take responsibility. He has brought the problems of the last few games on himself, starting in the Manchester derby.

I don’t understand why he changed his team for the City game, which he lost 2-1, bringing Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan into a side that had taken maximum points from three games.

Players gain confidence from playing and from familiarity. If it goes wrong then switch it, but don’t change a winning formula. Those you drop will be miffed and those who come in will be under pressure.

The result, compounded by the subsequent defeats to Feyenoord and Watford, is that I think Mourinho is now at a loss as to what his best team is.

Rooney a passenger

United seemed more like their old selves in the first two or three games of the season but have deteriorated since then and I think it stems from their defensive efforts – or lack of them.

In Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Watford I saw people not doing their jobs all over the pitch. I didn’t see players busting a gut to close opponents down or work together.

Mourinho singled out Luke Shaw, and yes the left-back was naive for the first goal, but he wasn’t the only culprit.

Wayne Rooney looked reinvigorated in the early games and was getting into forward positions but at Watford he was neither attacking nor defensive midfield. He didn’t defend or get back quickly enough.

Rooney now finds his place under threat and, while I’d normally pick him, he has got to do a job like everyone else. Every game is a fight in the Premier League; you cannot afford passengers.

On a hiding to nothing against Northampton

Fortunately for Mourinho, Wednesday's game in the EFL Cup is at third tier Northampton. The bad news is that he is on a hiding to nothing: only winning and playing well will do.

His criticism of individuals is misguided and I don’t think that will reverse the slump. I can’t recall any of my managers singling players out in public, and only very rarely in the dressing room.

If I was him I’d be making peace with the squad. Remind them that they’re good players, tell them what they have to do to get back on track.

He needs to get the team playing the way he wants them to – the problem may be that he doesn’t know what that is.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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