With the return of the domestic fixtures this past weekend, the media focus was firmly on the long standing rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool, as the two giants of English football met at a newly refurbished Anfield.
The clash saw a top of form Liverpool go into the game as the bookmakers favourites and with the Red Devils being the away side, many United fans would no doubt have taken a point if offered before kick off.
But as often can be the case, expectations and reality can differ and whilst the match ended with the points being shared, even the die hard Old Trafford faithful must be feeling uncomfortable about the approach of manager Jose Mourinho. The afore-claimed ‘Special One’ has a managerial record to be envied but in the past his methods have come in for criticism. The phrase ‘parking the bus’, not only come to existence from defensive tactics employed by Mourinho in his Chelsea days but was evident in the Monday night match up this week.
And whilst the end may justify the means for the Portuguese coach, more criticism came his way from pundits, experts and even fans on phone in radio stations in the aftermath of the draw at Anfield, a performance that saw United have their lowest percentage of possession in a Premier League match since such statistics began, a lowly 35%.
It was a clear indication of the manager’s intent to not want the ball and not be too interested in creating an opportunity to win the football match, and it is this that has instigated the brunt of the criticism coming his way. If United had stolen a goal from somewhere and won 1-0 there certainly would not have been a happier man in English football than Mourinho come Tuesday morning, but does that suggest he is out of touch with the expectations of Manchester United fans?
For the whole duration of the Premier League era, Sir Alex Ferguson brought an attacking cavalier style to the Theatre of Dreams and won a wealth of titles. The supporters were certainly spoilt with success and entertainment. Every manager has his style and ways of achieving their goals and Mourinho is without question successful, but can he be called entertaining? Monday night would tell us no, and sitting in seventh place in the League, he is hardly successful at the current time.
There is, of course, a long way to go in the season and the rest of October will still give United fans a better indication of how the season will develop, but Jose may well have to look at the style of play going forward if he doesn’t want to alienate the fans in his quest to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.