Man United Lack the Excitement of Other Top Four Contenders


jose mourinho

Manchester United just don’t have the same sizzle and pizzazz as most of the other big six teams right now. For most of the other top four contenders, you have electric, must-see players in the final third. You can’t say that about Man United, who lack creativity in attack and any element that could make them can’t miss television.

After an extremely dull goalless draw at home versus Southampton today, United will travel to Everton on New Year’s Day and then host Derby County in the FA Cup tournament on Friday.

Then Man United will have 10 days off before they host Stoke City. Saints came in to Old Trafford just one point above the relegation zone, and came away with a point, as United have now drawn their last three league games.

man united third kit

Throw in the League Cup loss to Bristol City and United now head to 2018 winless in the final four matches of 2017.

The draw with Saints featured very few scoring chances, and when Mourinho was asked if the game had frustrated him, Mourinho responded by ripping referee Craig Pawson. Mourinho was upset that the official decided against awarding a penalty on a very borderline situation involving Saints defender Maya Yoshida.

“Yeah, but I think also for Craig, because he’s a fantastic referee and one of the most promising young referees in Europe also. Also bad for him,” Mourinho responded, believing a hand ball should have been called.

“Of course we played enough to score goals, of course we missed easy chances, but I’m really unhappy with the penalty — not with Craig’s performance overall but with the penalty.”

jose mourinho

That was during Mourinho’s television interview, in his post match news conference he expanded on this: “I watch on the touchline and for me it looked very clear, but 50 meters distance, so I give the referee the benefit of the doubt.

“I know my players, so when I see Mata hysterical I could understand immediately, no doubt, and then at half-time I watch it and it is a penalty like Rashford’s at Leicester was a penalty, like Herrera against City.

“It is unlucky, and I told that without any problem, the referees’ performances in these matches, (Michael) Oliver against City, (Jon) Moss against Leicester and Pawson today, were good performances, so unlucky decisions for us that punished us.”


While it was a call that could have gone either way, Yoshida himself admitted he was fortunate not to get penalized.

“Sometimes we get decisions from the referee and sometimes we get bad luck from them,” he said.

“Today we got good luck.”

While United may or may not have been hosed on a few calls here and there, they have also benefited from having some questionable calls go their way, and over the course of a season, it all evens out. Winners know this and say this, instead of providing excuses.

Man United came into the Manchester Derby three weeks ago trying to stay in the league title race, and a result there would have established themselves as a true contender. Now they’re playing for top four, and not even assured of that, as Chelsea surpassed them for second place today.

“We wanted to win today, but we could only get the draw. We need to get back in the winning mentality, because it will be better for all of us,” Paul Pogba said in an interview with the BBC.

paul pogba ander herrera nemanja matic david de gea

“We didn’t have the final pass today, and we had a penalty that wasn’t given, and if we had that, and scored, it would’ve changed the game. The pressure is coming from behind, but we have to forget about everyone else, and focus on ourselves.”

Pogba is probably as key as any one player on United. One school of thoughts holds that Mourinho needs to use him more forward, and less backward. This school believes that Pogba is being misused.

The other school of thought believes that Man United simply doesn’t have the finishers that Pogba did at Juventus where he racked up assists like crazy. Perhaps the problem isn’t Pogba, but the finishers (or lack thereof) in the final third. Marcus Rashford has been very inconsistent. Anthony Martial has been in and out. Zlatan Ibrahimovic re-aggravated his knee injury and he’s out for a month. Romelu Lukaku suffered a head injury today and had to be stretchered off.

Even when at full strength though, United don’t have those world class elite attackers that the other top four contenders have.

paul pogba

There are must see players up front and in the attacking midfield on Manchester City (that goes without saying, they’re dominant in attack. but everywhere else too), Tottenham Hotspur (Harry Kane, Dele Alli), Chelsea (Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard) and Liverpool (the fab four, especially a red hot Mohamed Salah).

On United that’s simply not the case.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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