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What is wrong at Manchester United?

What is wrong at Manchester United?

Manchester United have lurched from one issue to another during an uncomfortable start to a season that threatens to unravel.

Background problems, disjointed displays and poor results have seen the Reds make their worst start to a Premier League campaign for 29 years.

Old Trafford has been in the eye of a storm and on Saturday morning the club dismissed reports it was about to sack manager Jose Mourinho.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the factors which have contributed to what has gone wrong at Manchester United.

Paul Pogba

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba appear to have a frosty relationship (Nick Potts/PA)

The World Cup winner has an uneasy relationship with Mourinho, who clearly feels the midfielder has been inconsistent and is not fulfilling his potential since his £89million move from Juventus two years ago.

It came to a head recently when Mourinho’s tactics against Wolves were criticised by Pogba, who was then stripped of the vice-captaincy by the boss. A tense training ground exchange in front of the television cameras followed.

The problem Mourinho has is Pogba has been United’s best player this season and he cannot really afford to drop him.

Centre-half position

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Old Trafford
Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld was thought to be a target for United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Mourinho made strengthening his central defensive options the priority during the summer transfer window.

His list of targets reportedly included Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire, Diego Godin, Yerry Mina or Jerome Boateng. But none of them arrived at Old Trafford.

Senior sources at the club claimed the lack of transfer activity was not a question of money but value, with few defenders on the market considered an upgrade on Mourinho’s current crop – which he was able to guide to a second-placed finish in the Premier League last season and an FA Cup final.

Romelu Lukaku out of form

Manchester United v Valencia – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford
Romelu Lukaku has yet to hit the scoring heights this season (Martin Rickett/PA)

The striker scored 27 goals in all competitions during his debut season at United. He has often had the tendency to go missing in matches but you can forgive that when he is hitting the back of the net. This season that is not happening.

Lukaku has five goals so far this campaign but his overall form and contribution is worryingly below par.

The 25-year-old looks lethargic and lacking in confidence and in a handful of games this season he has been too static and looked lost.

Unsettled players

Leicester City v Manchester United – Premier League – King Power Stadium
Jose Mourinho does not appear to be a fan of Anthony Martial (Mike Egerton/PA)

A long-standing criticism of Mourinho has been his man-management skills. The Portuguese has had his fair share of problems at almost every club he has managed during his third season in charge.

It happened in his first spell at Chelsea, at Inter Milan, then Real Madrid and again at Chelsea. Mourinho is in his third season at Old Trafford and he seems to have the same problems again.

The recent issues with Pogba have highlighted the trend but he has also publicly lambasted Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial during his United reign. Meanwhile, reports emerged this week that Alexis Sanchez is unhappy at Old Trafford and wants to leave.

Mourinho’s style of play

Chelsea v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
Manchester United fans are finding their team difficult to watch (Nick Potts/PA)

United fans have been used to fast, free-flowing football for the majority of their recent history, but this is not Mourinho’s style or forte

He has, and has always employed, a more pragmatic and reserved approach. But it is that which has brought him his success and he is reluctant to change.

Mourinho appears more concerned about losing a goal than scoring one and United have become boring to watch. Pogba spoke out against this approach recently, saying United should ‘Attack. Attack. Attack’ but it is hard to see Mourinho changing now and loosening the shackles.

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