Paul Scholes has been critical of Manchester United and Jose Mourinho this week, which is nothing new, with the legendary former midfielder regularly getting stick from supporters because of his newfound voice.
During his years as a player, you’d struggle to get a few words out of him on any topic, but during his retirement he has regularly been vocal on his displeasure over the performance of his beloved team.
Given his job is now pundit, rather than football player, that probably shouldn’t come too much as a shock.
However, the player has argued that his criticisms come from a good place, that he is a United supporter, that his son travels up and down the country watching the team play, and he’s just saying it as he sees it.
While the more defensive United fans don’t want to hear what he’s saying, with it feeling particularly hurtful to listen to their club being bashed by their hero, it’s hard to argue with too much of what Scholes has said.
Scholes insists that he believes Mourinho is a great manager “but you wonder why his side keep getting outplayed.” It’s a valid question.
He’s been at the club for over two seasons now, has had time to bring in some of the players of his choosing, even if not all the ones he would like, yet there seems to be no cohesive style of play.
Too often the players look like they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.
“The reason we finished second last year was because of the goalkeeper,” Scholes continued which, again, is hard to disagree with.
David de Gea was exceptional last season but there’s only so much he can do. It’s no surprise that the club have reportedly made extending his current contract a priority.
Season after season De Gea is named as player of the year, something that was totally unheard of before Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
The same player never won Sir Matt Busby player of the year for more than two consecutive seasons, with the most important player in the team changing year on year, and they certainly never relied on their goalkeeper to be the best.
De Gea has conceded more goals this season but it’s hard to point the finger of blame at him.
Scholes has argued that Mourinho needs to establish a more settled team, where players don’t have to worry about being dropped in and out of the team.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have been two victims of this, but also the defence too.
“You need a settled back four,” he said.
“Think of the best United teams. We had [Rio] Ferdinand and [Nemanja] Vidic, [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Steve] Bruce and [Gary] Pallister. They played all the time, they were settled. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen with this team.”
While Scholes is right in what he said and that all of United’s best teams had a rock solid defences, it would be remiss not to point out the obvious, that Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof are no Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones or Eric Bailly are no Nemanja Vidic, so what is Mourinho supposed to do? Stick with players who make alarming errors every time they play?
No, what Mourinho should do is spend a fortune on a world-class and proven central defender, like rivals Manchester City and Liverpool did.
Unfortunately for the manager, Woodward overruled him, while even the likes of Fulham and Wolves outspent United, let alone all their rivals.
However, Scholes doesn’t believe the biggest issue is the quality of the squad, with him believing the players Mourinho has should be performing better.
“I look at the current squad of players and I don’t think there’s a lack of quality there,” he said.
“I do think they miss a couple of real class players that other top teams seem to have.”
He wants a Luka Modric, David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne style player, someone who is better link between the midfield and attack than United currently have.
There’s no denying that United have looked poor going forward on so many occasions this season. They’ve scored just 13 goals in the league, the same tally as Everton and less than Leicester, which quite simply is unacceptable.
Scholes is fairly certain that Alexis Sanchez isn’t the answer though, seeing him as a “bit selfish”, but the Chilean isn’t the only player who Scholes doubts the mentality of.
“The big thing with United is the effort and the attitude. When you looked at the West Ham game last week, it looked like the biggest sign of players not wanting to play for Jose.”
United went 2-0 down to soft goals, jogging around the pitch and putting very little effort in to get back in to the game.
A moment of brilliance from Rashford saw United pull one back but soon after they conceded another.
The comeback against Newcastle the following week is arguably counter-evidence to this point although it would be far too soon to suggest that Mourinho has the full support of his players.
How they perform against Chelsea on Saturday will be telling.
Between the recruitment, the management and the commitment of the players, United are in trouble.
Scholes lands his most stinging blow when acknowledging the painful truth that their rivals, who spent decades in United’s shadow when Ferguson was at the club, are showing United how to get it right.
They have none of the problems United do, having addressing the issues that have previously held them back.
That has seen great success at City, while Liverpool, who have yet to win a trophy or finish higher than fourth under Jurgen Klopp, look a much better side than United this season.
“It feels like we have turned into a Liverpool or a Man City,” Scholes continued.
“I feel like people at Liverpool and Man City are looking at us and laughing like we did at them many years ago.”
A change in manager won’t fix that problem. Arguably neither will forking out a fortune in January. The issues are deeply ingrained, starting at the top, which is why some Reds took to social media to support recent rumours of Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Who cares about human rights complaints surrounding your owner if they spend the money that enables your team to be the best?
City supporters certainly don’t and many United fans echoed the same sentiment when news that the Glazers, who have drained £1 billion out of the club since their takeover in 2015, could be on their way out.
Yet far more likely than the Glazers leaving or United being allowed to match the spending of their rivals is that Mourinho will pay for the club’s predicament with his job.
He should certainly shoulder some of the blame, although Scholes doesn’t want to see him sacked, but if the fans believe Mourinho’s dismissal will right all the wrongs at Old Trafford, they’re about to be left sorely disappointed.
Scott can be found tweeting @R_o_M . Read his Republik Of Mancunia blog here .
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