Despite the fact that Manchester United have made their worst start to any Premier League season, Jose Mourinho’s managerial team argued that their experience of managing big clubs will turn around a desperate situation at Old Trafford.
A fourth successive home draw, this time against West Ham, meant that Manchester United are 11 points off the lead and eight off a Champions League place. Their total of 20 points from 13 matches is Manchester United’s poorest start since 1989-90, the season when Sir Alex Ferguson was in greatest danger of being sacked than at any other point in his career at Old Trafford.
Mourinho is in no imminent peril of dismissal but his two immediate predecessors, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, were fired for failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Mourinho, who has not won a league game at Old Trafford in two months, did not attend the post-match press conference after the 1-1 draw but his assistant, Rui Faria, who has worked with him at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid, said he and his backroom team were aware of what was required.
“We knew the job was not easy and we are trying to change things,” he said. “We believe things will change and what we are chasing will arrive for sure.”
When he was asked why managing a club that boasts the highest wage bill in the world was not an easy job, Faria said: “If it was easy, then the managers who were here before would have done it. We had a lot of work in front of us and that is what we are doing. We are used to big clubs. We know how to make a big club win and we know we will do it.”
Ferguson was in the director’s box to see Mourinho sent off for the third time in 20 league matches when he kicked a water bottle in frustration at seeing referee Jon Moss book Paul Pogba for diving. Pogba appeared to argue with Moss that he was not simulating but trying to take evasive action as the West Ham captain, Mark Noble, swung a boot at him.
“I think everyone saw his frustration,” said Faria of the incident that led to Mourinho’s red card. “It should be a free-kick for us and finished with a yellow card for Paul that has kept him out of the next match.
“There is a reason to express some frustration – after that the referee took a decision. But everything comes from that.”
Pogba’s fifth booking of the season will see him suspended for Manchester United’s League Cup quarter-final with West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Mourinho may face greater punishment. This was his third dismissal in 20 league matches. His sending off by Moss during the Chelsea-West Ham game in September led to a stadium ban. Faria said that the two did not discuss the incident during the interval. “I didn’t comment,” he said. “We just spoke about things that were important or needed to happen to the team in the second half. We didn’t focus on the sending off.”Reuse content