Stalemate with Crystal Palace proves Jose Mourinho is mirroring Louis van Gaal at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday left them 15 points behind Manchester City and 12 points behind Liverpool.

Perhaps worse, though, it was an afternoon which saw them fail to take a lead into half time for 11 games running. And as the below statistic shows, it was not the first time a game ended goalless under Jose Mourinho.

But you don’t really need numbers to illustrate the misery at Old Trafford. You can feel it. It is the feeling you get when another Ashley Young cross is headed away. It is the feeling of seeing Paul Pogba dribble, stop, dribble some more, stop again, and then lose it. It is seeing Alexis Sanchez – former Barcelona and Arsenal superstar – looking invisible.

Once again, United drudged around the pitch – aimlessly, slowly, fearfully, ineffectively. Every player looked to be on a different wavelength, passing to each other more out of necessity than actual intent or design.

Does this remind you of anyone? Does it? Yes. Yes it does. It reminds you of a certain manager who, in his final season at Old Trafford, inexplicably oversaw a period during which United did not score in the first half at home for ELEVEN straight games. Eleven. In other words: four months of no first half goals at Old Trafford.

It is telling that the same phenomenon is occurring under Mourinho. His outlook on the game is different to the Dutchman but the end product, over time, is becoming indistinguishable from the days of Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Every game starts with United looking pumped but totally without direction, descending further into uncertainty as the half wears on, before either getting an unexpected goal or allowing themselves to wallow in their own tactical mediocrity – performing the same predictable, self-defeating passing sequences over and over again – until the full time whistle.

That second season under Van Gaal somehow ended in a trophy. The same may happen with Mourinho. But the board surely has to notice that – both statistically and stylistically – this club has gone full circle, miserably drawing or losing games at home in the same insipid manner under a manager nobody likes any longer, just like in 2015.

You can only hope that United make a more considered decision for their next manager once they do, belatedly, push the button on Mourinho.

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