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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Mourinho madness continues to drag Manchester United down

McTominay experiment fails in West Ham defeat

Paul Pogba walks past Jose Mourinho after being substituted
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Five things we learned

1 Tactical tinkering causes defensive chaos for Red Devils
Jose Mourinho has been dropping not-so-subtle weekly hints that he is unhappy with his centre-back options. But by making political points on the pitch he is contributing to Manchester United's worst start for nearly 30 years.

In their 3-0 defeat to Tottenham midfielder Ander Herrera was used as a sacrificial lamb in Mourinho's war with Ed Woodward, and on Saturday Scott McTominay was played out of position in a defensive three because, according to Mourinho, he possesses "special character" as well as the ability to play out from the back.

It did not work at all. The wonky defensive line aided West Ham's opener and the decisive goal in the Hammers' 3-1 win came when Marko Arnautovic was given the freedom of the London Stadium.

By that time McTominay was playing at the heart of a four-man defence instead of more established centre-backs and the team was in chaos at times with no structure.

The wing-backs did not know whether to engage with West Ham's wingers or full-backs, players were getting dragged out of position and it's the third time in seven Premier League matches that United have conceded three goals.

The players have to take some responsibility but if the manager picks fights with the squad and uses them out of position it is a recipe for disaster.


2 Liverpool squad are showing up well
In last season's Champions League final Jurgen Klopp brought on Adam Lallana and Emre Can as Liverpool came up short against Real Madrid but their bench looks much stronger now.

Their subs changed the game in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea with former Blue Daniel Sturridge scoring a sensational late leveller to continue his fine start to the season.

Sturridge could be hugely important if he accepts his role as the forward understudy, using his fragile body less frequently but possibly making a greater overall impact for Klopp's side.

However, it was not just Sturridge. Naby Keita came on to drive Liverpool forward and fellow sub Xherdan Shaqiri nearly scored before the equaliser.

With Mohamed Salah falling short of last season's heroics, players like Sturridge who can come in and inflict damage will determine how far Liverpool go in the major competitions this term.

3 Burnley not out of the woods just yet
Burnley made it back-to-back Premier League wins by following their Bournemouth triumph with a 2-1 victory at Cardiff, although it would be wrong to believe Sean Dyche's side have totally turned the corner.

The opening goal against the run of play from Johann Berg Gudmundsson came courtesy of poor goalkeeping from Cardiff cat Neil Etheridge and the winner from Sam Vokes also came with the hosts on top.

Cardiff had 19 shots to Burnley's three and it was 5-2 in shots on target - better sides than the Bluebirds would surely have put the Clarets to the sword, particularly after James Tarkowski went off injured as Joe Hart had to put in a man-of-the-match performance to secure maximum points. 


4 Canaries keeping it clean
One-nil to the Norfolk boys could become the song of the season for Norwich, who beat Wigan by that margin at Carrow Road.

It was Norwich's fourth straight success in the Sky Bet Championship, three of which were 1-0s, and Daniel Farke seems to have sorted out City's concerns at the back.

Wigan were not allowed a single shot on target and Norwich have conceded just seven attempts on their goal in the last four league games.

5 Austin's power over at Northampton
Rookie manager Dean Austin promised big changes to his Northampton side in the aftermath of their 4-0 mauling at Mansfield but he was not given the chance to the turn the Cobblers around with the club 21st in League Two.

Austin was sacked on Sunday night and can have few complaints.

Northampton have not scored in their last three matches and were destroyed on the stats at Field Mill, losing the overall shot count 19-3, with the rampant hosts having ten on target and the visitors just one.

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If the manager picks fights with the squad and uses them out of position it is a recipe for disaster
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