Source: SkySportsPL via Twitter
Manchester United highlighted their deficiencies at the back in their shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium. Goals from Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross guided the Seagulls to the victory over Jose Mourinho’s men, leaving the Portuguese to rue his side’s defensive mistakes – not for the first time in his reign.
United were linked with a litany of defenders over the summer as Mourinho identified the position as a key area of need for the club to once again become competitive in the Premier League and Champions League. Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld and Jerome Boateng were all linked with moves to Old Trafford. However, due to the World Cup and the early finish of the transfer window in the second week of August, the Red Devils were not able to get a deal over the line.
Brighton exposed their weaknesses at the back, while even Leicester had their moments in United’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the opening day. Unless Mourinho can coach up the talent that he has in his squad there’s no chance that the club will be able to compete for the elite honours at the end of the season. United are backed at 14/1 in the Champions League betting at William Hill, highlighting how far off the pace the club are deemed compared to their rivals on the continent.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were the central defensive partnership for the opening two matches of the Premier League campaign. Bailly seemed comfortable enough against Leicester, although once Jamie Vardy arrived on the pitch matters became a tad more difficult. Against the physical presence of Glenn Murray, the Ivorian completely imploded, failing to match the intensity of the forward.
He was at fault for the second and third goal, being bullied out of a potential clearance before Duffy found the net, while he chopped down Gross in the box, allowing the German to score from the spot. Bailly had his moments in the Premier League, therefore he will likely retain his place when fit.
Source: MirrorFootball via Twitter
Mourinho moved for Lindelof last season, paying Benfica in the region of £30m to acquire the Sweden international’s services. The 24-year-old has not taken to life at Old Trafford, making 29 appearances in his first year at the club. In his opening two matches of the current campaign, he has looked unnerved at the back. He almost allowed Kelechi Iheanacho on behind him against Leicester, only to be bailed out by Bailly. Against Brighton, Lindelof allowed Murray to get a march on him at the near post before the veteran forward flicked his effort past David de Gea. Lindelof will not be the last player to struggle to adapt to life in England, although it’s not a glowing endorsement of Mourinho’s scouting.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have been at Old Trafford since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, neither have blossomed into the players that the Scot would have hoped. Both have had issues with injuries, while they have also had huge lapses in their respective careers, including Jones’ foul on Eden Hazard in United’s FA Cup defeat to Chelsea last term. Mourinho finds himself in a bind, given that his signings have failed to bear fruit, while the leftovers from previous regimes have proven not to be the answer. He has to come up with something otherwise it will be another underwhelming campaign for the Red Devils.