Cleat Geeks

Jose Mourinho Not Yet In 7th Heaven After 7 Premier League Games

It is often said that the start of a season for any sport can throw up some peculiar results. Teams, even good ones are slowly getting back into the swing of it all and are often ripe for a result which at another time would rarely if ever happen.

Pre-season friendlies of course are suppose to iron out the summer holiday indulgences for the players, if not the fans, but friendlies are friendlies and only go so far in preparation for the cut and thrust of actual combat. While you cannot win the Premier League title in September or October it is possible to lose it by getting off to a faltering start. What then, as a general rule, is the magic number of games to look for when assessing what a team might achieve in the coming season?

In the football (soccer) world of the Premier League the general consensus is that it takes about 10 games to get a feel of how the season will pan out. Which teams might be considered possible title winners and which might become the also rans and face relegation the following May.

It has to be said however that even this philosophy does not always ring true and 5000/1 outsiders like Leicester City can sometimes become champions. However last season, it is true to say most of the title favorites played below par, and Leicester with their one route football achieved their unbelievable dream of winning their cup of gold.

jose-mourinho-man-utd-manchester-unitedForewarned is forearmed so the saying goes and this season the Bob Dylan lyrics “things have changed” have never rung so true. New managers, new players and new owners at some of the more well known clubs all aspiring for the ultimate prize. The outstanding manager at the moment without doubt is Pep Guardiola, but false dawns have happened before.

Other managers, like Jose Mourinho, have started well and then hit the odd bump in the road. Each team in the Premier League has now played 7 games, 3 short of the considered 10, so it might still be too soon to draw any serious conclusions as to any eventual champions.

Although it is of no small interest that Leicester City have only won 2 of their opening 7 games and lost 3. While West Ham having moved to their brand new stadium have only managed 1 win, 1 draw and 5 defeats. Perhaps Sunderland at the foot of the Premier League table is of no great surprise considering their new manager David Moyes confession that they (Sunderland) will most likely be in a relegation battle this season. More surprising perhaps is that Stoke City, whose home ground synonymous with difficulty is only one place better off with 3 draws and 4 defeats so far.

Manchester United started off, dare I say, like Manchester City, winning their first 3 matches and the Mourinho magic seemed to have kicked in early. However if it is magic you want you are probably better off watching Walt Disney because the so called quick fix at United under Mourinho was never likely to be sustained.

Mourinho has taken over from two previous managers in three years, one the already mentioned Mr Moyes who words at Sunderland probably went down with players and fans alike like a lead balloon. The other manager of course was Louis Van Gaal who in two years spoke about project, philosophy, and United fans having too high an expectation of what the club could achieve.

Since the 3 wins, Mourinho’s United have lost at home to Manchester City, lost away to Watford and won at home to Leicester City. United then played game 7 at home to Stoke City before the enforced international break with the match ending in a 1-1 draw.zlatanibrahimovic

However, without personal bias, it would be fair to say that United could and should have been one up in the second minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was put through with only the goalkeeper to beat. Ibrahimovic didn’t and the score remained 0-0. The Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant had one of those days when he stopped anything just about, “he’d even stop a train today” was one fans view and he was most peoples ‘man of the match’.

In the 67th minute a played on pass found Anthony Martial on the edge of the box and he whipped the ball past Grant to notch his first goal of the season. It seemed the Stoke resilience was broken and goals 2, 3 and possibly 4 would come along fairly soon. However what might be called a fumble, being generous, by David De Gea in the 82nd minute allowed Joe Allen to equalize against the run of play and the game ended with points shared.

Much of the United talk before the game was around the ‘R’ word which these days means Rooney, Wayne Rooney. He was dropped for the match which is a rarity in itself however when he came on as a substitute he had little effect on the game.

These are difficult days for Rooney who is clearly not the player he once was and has not been for about three years. It remains one of Mourinho’s dilemmas how to get the best out of the player and it seems for the moment, at least, Mourinho will use Rooney as an impact substitute. Whether as the season progresses that changes is really down to Rooney, he is no longer the main attraction in the Manchester United forward line.

In his after match press conference Mourinho later announced that United could have won 6-0 while Mark Hughes said he was pleased how his team played and that Grant and Allen were ‘immense”on the day.

A quick look at the shots at goal perhaps favors Mourinho’s bravado.


Manchester United shots at goal (L) Stoke shots at goal (R)

In conclusion Manchester United have played 7 matches, they have won 4, drawn 1 and lost 2 in the race for the premiership title and it could be argued it is a fair start for the new manager. The 7 match “school report” (if it existed) might read, “tries hard, but could do better”.

The “could do better” will need to happen sooner rather than later because the next 3 matches in the Premier League for Mourinho’s United are away at Liverpool, away at Chelsea and home to Burnley. In between these fixtures are two home games of great significance, Fenerbahçe in the Europa League and Manchester City in the EFL Cup – Fourth Round and yet another Mourinho v Guardiola match up.

The matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Burnley will take Manchester United to the magic 10 games played in the Premier League, base camp, if you will, in their climb to the summit and the premiership title. This as the general consensus argues will give management and supporters alike a clearer picture, perhaps, of what the club and Mourinho will achieve this season, we wait and see.


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