In Depth

Man Utd unrest: will Jose Mourinho be sacked and will Paul Pogba leave?

Anfield loss leaves clouds hanging over the futures of United’s boss and midfielder

Liverpool’s victory against Manchester United saw the Merseyside club move back to the top of the Premier League but much of the focus for the UK’s football media today is on the struggles at Old Trafford.

United boss Jose Mourinho admitted his team were second best at Anfield yesterday as Liverpool secured the 3-1 win and The Daily Telegraph reports that he accused his players of being physically and technically weaker than their red rivals.

In an interview with BBC Sport, the Portuguese said: “The strongest team won, but they won in the period when they were not stronger than us. In first 20 minutes of the first half there was a huge distance [between the teams]. They were better and stronger, they did everything better than us.

“But in the moment when the game was going down, Liverpool’s intensity was dying, the centre-backs were shooting from 30-40 metres because they could not find spaces in a dangerous area.”

Should Jose stay or go?

Last week Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes claimed that United’s board were “very happy” with his client, but the defeat at Anfield leaves the Red Devils in sixth place in the Premier League table - 19 points behind the leaders.

BBC Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer said “something has to change at the club” and that goalkeeper David de Gea was the only player performing to his potential. Shearer said: “The board either has to get rid of the manager or back him and let him get the players he wants because there is a lot of work needed in that team. There’s a lack of ability.”

Former United skipper Roy Keane believes that Mourinho deserves time but it’s hard to disagree he is not getting the best out of his players. Speaking on Sky Sports, Keane said: “It’s easy to look at the manager and get him out of the door. His CV warrants time, whether that be to the end of the season or another year. He certainly shouldn’t go before then.”

However, Keane’s former United teammate Gary Neville feels that Mourinho will eventually go although the problems at Old Trafford are not just down to the manager. “Will Mourinho leave? I think it will happen, my preference would always be to get to the end of the season,” said Sky Sports pundit Neville.

“But the boardroom is so naive it’s unbelievable, to give him an extended contract knowing the cycle of Mourinho and his three years. The third year is always the difficult year for him.

“What do they want for the next three or four years at the club? Because it’s not as easy as saying get rid of the manager. Manchester United need to reset. It’s not just the manager, it’s deeper than that.”

The Pogba problem

Despite United’s struggles on the pitch against Liverpool Mourinho left star midfielder Paul Pogba on the bench as an unused substitute at Anfield.

Quoted by Goal.com, the United manager explained his decision not to use Pogba: “I am happy with [Nemanja] Matic, [Jesse] Lingard and [Ander] Herrera.”

Meanwhile, former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright tweeted: “Midfield dominated by LFC and Paul Pogba can’t get on the park when United are 3-1 down?!”

Pogba set for Juve return?

With just a couple of weeks until the opening of the January transfer window Pogba’s future at Old Trafford looks very unclear amid interest from former club Juventus and Spanish giants Barcelona.

Keane believes that selling Pogba is no “big deal” but thinks it’s more likely to happen in the summer not in the new year.

“If he’s sitting on the bench and not getting on then you’re thinking his days must be numbered,” said Keane on Sky Sports. “I don’t think they’ll do anything with Pogba in January but come the summer you move him on and it’s no big deal, he’s left Manchester United before.”

ESPN reports that following his latest snub Pogba’s return to Juventus is getting closer. Italian newspaper Tuttosport suggests that Juve are preparing to make their move for the 25-year-old Frenchman.

Fans fume at Mourinho

TalkSPORT reports that United supporters were left angered by the defeat against Liverpool and Mourinho’s refusal to use Pogba at Anfield.

On Twitter, Jake Heasman wrote: “Paul Pogba is just sat on the bench. PAUL POGBA. Mourinho has destroyed Man Utd just like he did to Chelsea in the end. Wonderful. #LIVMUN.”

Jordan Clarke added: “This is absolutely pathetic. No intention to take it to Liverpool. Olè’s from Anfield and Mourinho’s leaving Pogba on the bench after endless misplaced paces from our midfielders. He wants the sack, so give it to him.”

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