It’s time for Mourinho to seriously consider dropping Sanchez & Lukaku
After another disappointing performance against Wolves at home, Jose Mourinho has to axe some of the big names from his squad to send a statement of intent.
While Manchester United’s performance against Wolves wasn’t necessarily bad, it’s left them 8 points behind Liverpool in the title race.
Sir Alex Ferguson probably didn’t get the result he would have liked on his return to Old Trafford following a brain haemorrhage in May earlier this year.
United were on the back of an impressive winning streak that momentarily lifted the spirits surrounding the club after embarrassing defeats to Brighton and Tottenham.
Summer signing Fred notched his first goal for the club after a brilliant assist by Paul Pogba, and the Red Devils were up and running after scoring against the run of play. After the opener, they started dominating play for large portions of the match. They produced very little attacking output though, with Romelu Lukaku cutting an isolated figure up front.
Wolves were dynamic on the counter, constantly posing a goal threat through Helder Costa and Diogo Jota’s relentless runs down the wings. The former’s work eventually led to Joao Moutinho’s stunning equaliser.
The stats certainly don’t make for good reading. In spite of hogging nearly two-thirds of possession, United managed fewer shots on target compared to their newly promoted opponents.
While many fans are quick to blame Mourinho and his tactics for recent results, the main problem, by all indications, seems to be his man management.
Sanchez was once again frustratingly wasteful on Saturday evening, finishing the match with the lowest passing accuracy among his teammates. Although Lukaku didn’t receive the support up front that he should have, he was far from the lethal finisher that he usually is for his country. Mourinho has been reluctant to impose some serious stakes for his players so far, but it’s about time he did.
As far as Premier League games are concerned, Alexis has been undisputed first choice on the left wing so far, despite a string of unconvincing performances. The former Arsenal star has been subjected to plenty of ridicule for his inability to score or assist so far this season, and yet Jose has chosen to place his trust on him.
The Chilean is but one among the Portuguese boss’ list of “untouchables” who are guaranteed a place in the starting XI, with some of the others being Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and David De Gea.
With the exception of De Gea, the others on that list have been underwhelming several times this season, and the only thing keeping them in the squad is their star power. Sir Alex would never have tolerated some of the performances that Lukaku and Sanchez have put in recently, and Mourinho needs to bring that ruthlessness back.
Youngsters like Martial, Rashford, Pereira, and even Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong are eagerly waiting on the sidelines. Mourinho has certainly given a fair share of opportunities to youngsters at United, but given the kind of performances we’ve seen so far, that number should be higher.
Dropping Sanchez and Lukaku would send a strong statement of intent to the rest of the squad. And the former Chelsea boss has done that before at Old Trafford as well – he dropped Eric Bailly after the Brighton defeat, and Smalling and Lindelof have stepped up since then.
Bailly isn’t a big name like Sanchez, but that doesn’t mean the latter deserves to get away with the kind of performance he put in against Wolves.
Mourinho has some hard decisions ahead of him. The next few games may end up deciding the rest of his tenure at Manchester United.
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