Man Utd masterplan: Jose Mourinho must make Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku decisions
Manchester United manager Mourinho is safe, for now. Express Sport understands the 55-year-old has the backing of Ed Woodward, despite reports linking the club with Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino.
But let’s be real here. Mourinho’s will be fine while there is still a chance the club can still finish in the top four – the Glazers’ minimum requirement.
He needs wins, though, and fast. The 3-2 victory over Newcastle and positive 2-2 draw with Chelsea papered over some cracks. The 1-0 defeat to Juventus last night has seen them widen.
Express Sport looks at five ways the United boss can stave off talk of the sack and steer the club back onto the golden path they used to walk.
Sanchez for Lukaku
Alexis Sanchez needs some minutes down the middle because Romelu Lukaku needs a rest. Pronto.
The Belgian bulldozer is a brilliant striker but sometimes even the best need some time out. And Lukaku, based off his last six games, is no exception.
Lukaku needs a goal but United need a win and that means it is time for Mourinho to drop his favourite disciple.
Sanchez showed at Arsenal he can excel in a central position and fielding him, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial around him, may be the ticket to an upturn in form.
Man Utd masterplan: Alexis Sanchez deserves to replace Romelu Lukaku
Man Utd masterplan: Romelu Lukaku needs a rest
No disrespect to Ashley Young or Antonio Valencia – both are great squad players to have – the fact they are competing for the United captaincy is laughable.
Young is industrious but not a natural leader. Had David Moyes got his way, he would not even be at the club now.
Valencia, meanwhile, still speaks little English and is a quiet individual. Compare him to the greats such as Bryan Robson and Roy Keane – or even Wayne Rooney – and it doesn’t look good.
Paul Pogba should get it. He leads United on the pitch and though Mourinho has called him out for his attitude, he does at least always appear ready to fight for the shirt. That makes him the standout candidate for the role.
Man Utd masterplan: Paul Pogba, despite his troubles, is a natural leader
Matic for Fred
A year ago, United fans were mocking Chelsea for signing Nemanja Matic. Twelve months on, they can be forgiven for regretting their words.
The Serbia international is too slow, too ponderous and too…flat…to start week in, week out.
And £52million Fred is the ideal replacement. The Brazilian has a dynamism and creative spark to his game that his United team-mate simply does not.
Magic needs dropping. He would not get into any other top six team at present.
Man Utd masterplan: Fred offers more than Nemanja Matic
Look Jose, we get it. Your board didn’t back you in the summer and you have every right to be angry.
But stop saying it. Stop repeating it. With every week that passes, the United boss manages to conjure a fresh excuse.
Imagine being Victor Lindelof, who shone last night, hearing Mourinho gush over Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci? Or Romelu Lukaku, aware of his manager’s admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo?
The more he moans, the more the United armour weakens. Time to shut up and put up.
Man Utd masterplan: Jose Mourinho has GOT to stop moaning
Just go for it
The best football United have played this season is when Mourinho actually allows them to press, take the ball off their opponents and blitz them at the opposite end.
Newcastle had no answer to it earlier this month. Chelsea didn’t at Stamford Bridge. And, on the rare times they dared to be adventurous against Juventus, even the Italian giants had a little wobble.
Defensive football does not suit this team. Gung-ho football does.
It’s time for Mourinho to release the handbrake and let them go. Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp does at Manchester City and Liverpool – and look how good THEY look these days.