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Five ways Mourinho can make Manchester United great again

October 6, 2016 By Andrew Amoth Wandola
Here are five key things Jose Mourinho should do to make Man Utd a formidable force once again.

After a round of seven matches in the Premier League, we take a look at how Manchester United have been performing under new manager Jose Mourinho. Of course, the excitement that we witnessed after the departure of Louis Van Gaal and the arrival of Mourinho at Old Trafford over the summer gives us a good reason to find out exactly how the Red Devils are faring on with their new relationship with the Portuguese tactician. 

Quite unexpectedly, the Portuguese tactician hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the club’s fans after seven matches. In fact, statistics show that their ‘ex' LVG was actually better after seven league matches:

And that brings us to the question – what exactly does the new manager need to do to improve the relationship lest the English giants decide to terminate it? Here are five key things to consider:

1. Juan Mata matters

Oh yes, he does! Mourinho himself recently admitted that the Mata at Man Utd wasn’t the same player he got rid of at Chelsea two seasons ago. At Man Utd, he has reinvented himself and proven to critics that he deserves a regular starting role at the club under the outspoken manager. Mata may not be the usual well-built player Mourinho prefers but his pint size works for him even better. A good example is his performance against Leicester City in the 4-1 win – his best so far this season. Mourinho should build the attacking midfield around the ex-Blues man throughout the season. 

Mata (second from right) celebrates with his Man Utd teammates after scoring against Leicester City in the Premier League. Wayne Rooney did not feature in this match, hence giving Mata a free role behind the strikers.Mata (second from right) celebrates with his Man Utd teammates after scoring against Leicester City in the Premier League Talk of creativity, positioning and general match intelligence – the Spaniard has it all. On the contrary, Wayne Rooney has been sluggish and oftentimes, he tends to get into the run of play, blocking or interrupting the flow of sleek passes inside the box. 

2. Make Old Trafford a fortress 

For the remainder of the season, Jose should focus on making Old Trafford the once-dreaded slaughterhouse in English football. The humiliation we witnessed in the hands of Man City under Pep at Old Trafford last month has created disrespect among our opponents. That explains why Stoke had the audacity to negotiate a draw last weekend at the same venue, which is totally unacceptable. To be a strong side away, Mourinho must make Man Utd even stronger at home. 

Prior to his arrival at the 20-time league champions, the Special One had only lost nine league games at home in his previous clubs since 2000. That's what gave many Man Utd fans the hope that Old Trafford would be a slaughter house under his reign.

3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – the Messiah

A trademark name in German football, the man behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lethal form in front of goal last season in the Bundesliga – Mkhitaryan is what Mourinho needs to unlock the attacking midfield. A combination of Juan Mata and Micki behind Zlatan and Rashford, and a free-running Pogba waiting to pounce on loose balls would be a great Christmas present for the club’s fans. Micki’s performance against Man City proved exactly why benching such great players affects their form.

The Armenian was a pale shadow of himself having struggled with a thigh injury days before the game. But if you watched him in the Bundesliga last season when he won the Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Season after providing 15 league assists, second to none, and his debut for Man Utd against Wigan in a pre-season friendly, you’ll agree that such a creative and marauding player deserves a permanent spot in the first team.

4. Bring back Carrick or Bastian

This will depend if Bastian has been training lately or watching his girlfriend Ana Ivanovic play tennis. On the bench, I would choose Schweinsteiger or Carrick over Marouane Fellaini any day, any time. As much as the big fella is mostly preferred by Mou thanks to his ability to win aerial duels and tackles, he creates more fouls than chances. The battle of the midfield is not necessarily won by physicality – I’d choose creativity over physicality any day.

Check out this pass from Bastian to Rooney in Man Utd's clash with Aston Villa last season. He didn't elbow anyone to get it right.

And then there was this killer precision against Club Brugge:

That is why a player such as Andres Iniesta has established himself as one of the most creative midfielders in history despite being relatively smaller and less physical. I am not trying to compare Iniesta with Schweini or Carrick, but who would fail to notice their striking similarities in terms composure behind the ball, creativity, experience, and of course, their defense-splitting passes? Both (Basti and Carrick) may be slower and prone to injuries due to age, but they can still be useful substitutes when Mou needs someone to slow down the game and open up the midfield without creating unnecessary fouls. 

5. Stop underrating the Europa League

Mou once said this about the Europa League, "This is not a competition that Manchester United wants. It is not a competition I want, it is not a competition the players want."

And as the Red Devils went down 1-0 to Feyenoord in the Netherlands, their playing style had everything to show that indeed, they did not see the sense in playing in this competition. But truth is, winning such a competition would give the club a direct ticket to the Champions League next season regardless of their performance in the Premier League.

Feyenoord's Trinidade (right) celebrates his goal against Man Utd in the Europa League at Stadion Feijenoord three weeks ago.Feyenoord's Trinidade (right) celebrates his goal against Man Utd in the Europa League at Stadion FeijenoordSecondly, should they fail to win it, their participation would be enough for Mourinho to know which players deserve playtime at the club, and those who do not. After all, didn’t Marcus Rashford rise to fame thanks to his brilliant Man Utd debut last season when he scored a brace against Midtjylland at Old Trafford in the Europa League? Food for thought, Mou!

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