Jose Mourinho is suffocating Manchester United’s players with his current tactics at the club, claims Arsenal legend Martin Keown.
The former-defender played frequently in the great battles between Man United and Arsenal in the early 2000s while Sir Alex Ferguson led the Reds. Now, he believes current boss Mourinho is changing things far too often at United to allow his players to get any rhythm and have any success.
United have had their worst ever start to a Premier League season with three losses in their opening seven fixtures and one draw. Only David Moyes’ torrid side in the 2013/14 season equalled this nightmare start.
Keown places the blame for such a start down to Mourinho’s constant tinkering with his starting line-up and formation.
“I see no freedom at United, no structure, no clear plan,” Keown told the Mail.
“Mourinho keeps ripping things up and starting again. He has made 19 changes to his starting XI this season, with only Rafa Benitez at struggling Newcastle making more.
“Mourinho is becoming the Tinkerman and seems to have lost the respect of the group. These constant tweaks are suffocating.”
Certainly in defence, Keown has a point. Against Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-0 loss, it was a three-man defence which included midfielder Ander Herrera. In other games, it has been a four-man defence with no consistent pairing. Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof have all been partnered in various forms this season and have all been dropped at some point.
In Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham United, young midfielder Scott McTominay took the Herrera role in a three-man defence again and United were exposed on multiple occasions at the back. Consistency is vital in defence, and United aren’t having that because Mourinho is constantly shaking things up.
Keown also believes Mourinho needs to focus on the football rather than proving he is more powerful than other figures at the club, such as star midfielder Paul Pogba.
“Mourinho is wasting so much energy on proving he is top dog off the pitch that performances are suffering on it,” the former-England man continued.
“He said recently that no individual is bigger than Manchester United but that applies to the manager, too.
“If Mourinho is to turn things around, he must stop blaming individuals and start taking responsibility.
Keown is mainly right in what he says. Mourinho has created a toxic environment at Old Trafford off the pitch and his tactics on the pitch have been confusing and unsuccessful.