Jose Mourinho must restrict Manchester United’s attacking players’ freedom to score more goals

by Marwan Harraz

As crazy as it sounds Jose Mourinho must restrict Manchester United’s attacking players’ freedom in order to help his side score more goals after a toothless display against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

The Portuguese manager came under some heavy criticism after his side lost 1-0 at Wembley yesterday with many fans believing he set his team up defensively as he normally tends to do.

The truth is that Mourinho set up with the same 4-4-2 diamond shape that saw his players win against the Blues earlier in the season but the problem this time was that Antonio Conte was alive to it.

The Italian set up his team to play on the counter in comparison to how they played last time when the two clubs went head to head and it worked a treat for him.

Whether Conte did his homework or not fans will never know but even if he just watched how United struggle against teams who defend with deep blocks and play on the counter it would’ve been enough.

Though Jose’s side had little to play for in the matches running up to the final, their poor form can also be explained by the fact that they struggled to break down the opposition.

In the last six matches of the Premier League season the Red Devils failed to score against teams who defend such as West Ham, Brighton and West Brom but managed to beat attacking teams such as Arsenal, Bournemouth and Watford to an extent.

It begs the question- why is this the case? Besides the obvious answer that Jose Mourinho sets his teams up on the counter, it’s mostly because his players struggle with little room to manoeuvre in while the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool excel.

Again, why is this the case? The former Real Madrid boss prides himself on drilling his defences until they’re an excellent unit because he believes defenders work best when they’ve got a routine.

It’s fair to say since this has worked with Manchester United having one of the best defensive records in the league that he should continue to do what he’s been doing.

However, Mourinho’s men also have created the least chances out of the ‘top six’ sides in the league and the reason for that is how his team struggle when facing teams who themselves play on the counter.

When games are stretched United will beat anyone with their display against City at the Etihad proof of that but when the opposition is happy with defending they are thoroughly frustrated.

The problem is that just as Jose prides himself on drilling his defenders he also prides himself on giving attackers complete freedom and while that may have worked with his past teams, it hasn’t worked at United.

Too often he relies on an individual creating something special from nothing and the amount of freedom they have is why they’re often devoid of ideas on how to break the opposition down.

Perhaps Jose Mourinho would be better off if he drilled his attacking players in the same way he does with his defenders so that when they do come across defending teams they know what’s necessary to defeat them.

The former Chelsea manager made no tactical changes or substitutions after the break in the FA Cup final but his team still improved; was this because he told them what to do rather than gave them the freedom to come up with solutions?

Avid supporters have seen this happen multiple times all season long with it rarely coming down to a tactical tweak or substitution for United to win the game so why doesn’t Mourinho do this more?

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