Abject United must move on from disaster

Abject United must move on from disaster
From ESPN - March 14, 2018

Right at the end of Jose Mourinho's news conference following Manchester United's desperate Champions League exit to Sevilla, he was asked what needed to change to avoid another night like this.

"Everything," replied the Portuguese coach. "Everything needs to change."

It may be that he said it in the heat of the moment after what was his worst result as United manager. But, then, he is not the type to say things he does not mean.

If, indeed, he does feel that "everything" has to change to lift the club back into the group of Europe's top teams, then it is a startling admission.

We are 15 months and 109 games into Mourinho's reign at Old Trafford, during which time he has spent 286 million on eight new players. A lot has changed already.

He can, of course, argue progress. He inherited a squad that finished fifth in the Premier League and won the League Cup and the Europa League in his first season. Finishing sixth in the league was a disappointment -- although it was down, in part, to the focus on the Europa League -- but they look likely to finish second this season, their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired five years ago.

Even in the Champions League there has been a step forward. Louis van Gaal's United could not get out of a group consisting of Wolfsburg, PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow. Mourinho's team breezed through theirs, although elimination at the hands of Sevilla is bordering on a disaster.

Defeat over two legs to Real Madrid, Barcelona or even Manchester City could have been forgiven, but it is difficult to explain two meek performances against Spain's fifth-best team. Mourinho struck a dismissive tone after the final whistle insisting Champions League disappointment was "not something new for this club" after he knocked United out of the competition at Old Trafford with Porto in 2004 and Real Madrid in 2013.

He added that it was "not the end of the world". In some ways he is right, and with just three days to prepare for their FA Cup quarterfinal with Brighton there is little time to dwell on it. Still, it is unlikely the 76,000 fans who came to Old Trafford on Tuesday night will be able to brush off the defeat so easily.

The performances both in Spain and Manchester were far more forgettable. United managed four shots on target in 180 minutes against a team who have conceded 42 league goals this season and shipped 12 in six Champions League group games.


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