This weekend Manchester United secured their biggest victory of the season, winning 4-1 against Fulham, the Premier League’s bottom-placed club. However, there remain persistent rumours of conflict between players and their manager Jose Mourinho, with most observers agreeing that something big will need to change if Manchester United are to return to a position of dominance.
One of the great questions around Old Trafford concerns the relationship between the Portuguese coach and his star players. Mourinho has never been shy about publicly criticising his players, though he has usually been careful to build fierce loyalty within his squads. At United, that loyalty does not seem to have taken hold, though the public criticism is certainly in effect.
The Pogba Question
The key relationship under scrutiny is the one between Mourinho and Paul Pogba. The Frenchman was left on the bench during the win at Fulham, and Mourinho has been increasingly frank in his criticism of the World Cup winning midfielder.
Though United fans have yet to turn against their manager, bookies’ odds suggest that any battle between Pogba and Mourinho will have a clear winner. Paddy Power is offering a special bet, “Who leaves Man Utd First?” Mourinho is quoted at 1/3, with Pogba at 9/4.
Though Manchester United have not been terrible this season, there has been little evidence to suggest that this “team in transition” is actually transitioning into anything.
Whilst Mourinho’s first season in charge saw the club walk off with both the English League Cup and the Europa League, fans expecting that this was the start of a new era have since been disappointed.
Mourinho is now broadly seen as the most likely Premier League manager to lose his job, with William Hill quoting odds of 9/4. His great rival Pep Guardiola is seen as least likely, at 150/1.