Opponent analysis: What has gone wrong at Manchester United?

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Ander Herrera of Manchester United (L) speaks to Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (C) after the final whistle during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on October 2, 2016 in Manchester, England.
All rights reserved by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Europe

Rutwiz Kulkarni critically analyses what is going wrong with Manchester United.

Liverpool has played five league games after the Burnley disaster and has been unbeaten in all of those five games winning four. After a dramatic victory over Swansea City, the Reds will aim to continue their dream form when they play their bitter rivals Manchester United.

Liverpool will host Manchester United at Anfield on the 17th after the conclusion of the second international break just seven games into the season. Only 30-odd miles separate the two great footballing cities of Manchester and Liverpool and both the teams will be desperate to get the three points when they lock horns in a week.

For Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp, getting three points would just be an addition to their terrific run of form, however, for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho the story would be something else. We take a look at what’s gone wrong with The Red Devils:

Manchester United are arguably the best side on paper in the Premier League this season. When you boast a squad with the names like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney, you are bound to be the best side in the league, right?

Manchester United, however, has been anything but that. With 13 points in seven games, the Red Devils currently sit sixth in the table, three points behind their city rivals Manchester City. With £157.25m spent in the transfer window, of which £89.25 million was spent on Paul Pogba alone, it looked like Jose Mourinho had assembled the team of dreams, however, their performances hasn’t justified their price tags.

The sacking of Louis van Gaal and the appointment of Jose Mourinho as their new manager exhibited the board’s intent and everything seemed perfect two games into the season. Those mocking the ridiculous amount paid to acquire the services of Pogba suddenly started to believe Manchester United were contenders for the 2016/17 Premier League title.

Then, what happened over the course of five games was a sort of replication of their performances in the last three years. It can be argued that it’s too soon to judge the new manager and his new look team and system, but these teething troubles aren’t new. Anyone with a decent knowledge of football will understand that Manchester United have problems too complex to be solved by big-money signings at which their fans will definitely laugh at and end up taking a dig at some other team.

Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United hasn’t looked the same. Under his guidance, The Red Devils were arguably one of the best teams in the world of football. But since then, they have struggled to even make it to the top four. Most of their signings, with the exception of a few, have failed miserably. When a player arrives with a big price tag, worldwide attention and an abundance of expectation, not everyone can handle it.

They have had two managers sacked. What Fergie developed was an attacking style of football, but nowadays even after having what most consider ‘world class’ talents on the pitch, they look clueless. Manchester United doesn’t look like the team that they used to.

What I think everyone around Manchester United lacks is the correct mentality. Their fans have witnessed the Golden era under Sir Alex Ferguson. As a result of that, their current performances might be frustrating for every fan. What they need to accept is that nobody will fill SAF’s shoes right upon his arrival, it’s a process and fans should support the team regardless of the result.

Over time, the fans, the players and the manager have developed egotism. It’s not rocket science to figure out that Wayne Rooney can’t run the team on his own, Zlatan is no god or king or whatever and Pogba’s price tag doesn’t mean he will play out of this world. These are just football professionals playing for a football club. The fans should bow out of their delusion and the players need a fatherly figure and not some blame game after every match.

Coming to the match, whoever plays the best football will win. But a victory to Manchester United won’t mean that they have solved their problems, it’s a long way to go. It takes something special in the transition from the best team in England to being the subject of mockery in a few years. Man United fans might laugh all of this off but they need to accept that there’s been way too many Depays & Di Marias than there’s been van Persies. Cheers!

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