Former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins believes Jose Mourinho is yet to discover his best XI at Old Trafford this season.
Consecutive wins over Southampton and Hull City serve as they only time the 53-year-old named an unchanged XI as Man United manager.
United’s 4-0 loss to Chelsea, their biggest Premier League defeat since October 2011, was hallmarked by a palpable level of uncertainty running through the side.
Speaking on Sky Sports earlier today, Wilkins claimed such uncertainty stems from Mourinho’s inability to unearth his preferred starting XI.
“I don’t go with people being tired – I just don’t think they’ve got a settled side. I just don’t think Jose knows what his best XI players are to be perfectly honest,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s because of the competitions they’re in. Chelsea haven’t played but I’m sure they’d sooner be playing in Europe and would have played in that time.
“Manchester United have to start improving and the goals they conceded yesterday were very, very poor as far as they’re concerned.
“We talk about parking the bus – you could have driven a bus through that United defence on three of the occasions Chelsea scored.
“They’re just not performing and I think it’s going to take a while for Jose to turn it around as well.”
How can a side go from generating emphatic displays – as seen in wins over Leicester City and Fenerbahce – to complete capitulation with such incredible alacrity? The answer, of course, is down to Mourinho’s failure to consistently pick a starting XI that works.
There have been moments where the starting XI is picked with total accuracy, perfectly playing to the squad’s strength whilst exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses. Unfortunately, however, there have been moments where Mourinho’s starting XI simply doesn’t work. The Manchester derby, where a lack of any defensive cover in midfield or speed out wide precipitated a first-half meltdown, is a potent example.
United fans will hope that Mourinho can strike the balance on a regular basis this season, fielding a settled, dangerous team as opposed to continuously chopping and changing in an attempt to find the right formula.