EPL FREE KICKS: Mourinho at the centre of Manchester United’s turmoil

You’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb to see that there’s something wrong at Manchester United.

The team is in a funk, Jose Mourinho is feuding with his players and the press, and the club’s highest-paid player was just left out of the squad completely.

And this is just the stuff that we know about.

Before the Red Devils’ midweek Carabao Cup loss to second-tier Derby, training-field video emerged of Mourinho telling Paul Pogba to “get out.” The manager would later strip the midfielder of his vice captain role and told him that he would never captain the club again.

On Saturday, struggling winger Alexis Sanchez was dropped from the squad completely for what turned out to be a 3-1 loss to West Ham — the Irons’ second win of the season.

This wouldn’t be so shocking when you consider that Sanchez has been a huge bust for United, scoring two goals in 17 appearances since arriving from Arsenal. But, he’s the highest-paid player in the Premier League, earning $400,000 weekly and will continue to earn most of it while sitting at home.

The move wasn’t related to injury or illness, either, which sometimes is code for team discipline. How a “special” manager like Mourinho can’t get anything out of Alexis is mind-boggling.

And, remember, last week when United was searching for winner after Watford scored the tying goal, Sanchez was actually subbed off. What does that tell you?

Perhaps even more befuddling, with a supposed defensive mastermind at the helm, how is United’s defence so bad? It has allowed 12 goals in seven games this season, tied for fifth-most in the league.

Against West Ham, Man U’s defence switched off on the first goal, just five minutes into the game. On the third goal, Marko Arnautovic was completely forgotten about.

At the other end, the Red Devils seemingly can’t generate chances, either, despite employing such a high-priced attack with Pogba pulling strings in the midfield and Romelu Lukaku up front. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are all being outshone by Marouane Fellaini.

This is the first time in the Premier League era that United has lost multiple matches by at least two goals this early in a season, too. And, remember that season from hell under David Moyes in 2013-14? Well this United side has matched its start with 10 points from seven games and has a -2 goal differential.

And, while we’re sure that it’s tabloid fodder at best and highly speculative, former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was spotted in London near the United offices in the capital this weekend. If this three-season pattern of Mourinho’s managerial flameouts continues, Man U could certainly do worse than a recent Champions League winner.

Of course, what will likely happen is that United will beat Valencia midweek, then Newcastle on Saturday and head into the international break on a high. But with a trip to Stamford Bridge following that, we could easily see the cycle spin up once again.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

One of England’s top performers at the World Cup, Harry Maguire gets some glory in this space this week.

The Leicester defender filled up the stat sheet with a goal, assist and clean sheet against Newcastle on Saturday. His 18 fantasy points doubled his season total and he could be in line for more in the coming weeks.

The fixtures look pretty tasty for Maguire and the Foxes, with a trip to Arsenal the only big stumbling block on the horizon.

 AROUND THE LEAGUE 

Aaron Ramsey had a contract offer withdrawn by Arsenal last week, but still played for the Gunners. With new manager saying how important the Welshman is to the club all summer, this is a surprising move. We could see another move like Alexis’ last winter … Dele Alli is reportedly out for a month, but lucky for Spurs, Son Heung-min provides the team with ample cover in attack. Eric Lamela has looked pretty decent, too … All three of Huddersfield’s goals this season have come off of set pieces. If you can’t score during the run of play, you’re going to have a hard time avoiding relegation … Sergio Aguero is playing hurt, but it sure doesn’t show. Even if he’s playing just 60 minutes per game, he’s usually good for a goal during that period of time. City is hoping the international break gives him the time needed to get back to 100% … Bernd Leno has gotten his chance. With Petr Cech facing an extended absence due to a hamstring injury, The German keeper will finally show us if he was worth the cash splashed for him in the summer … Don’t look now, but Arsenal have won five straight games. It’s funny how the Gunners get ignored when nothing’s really going wrong … Harry Kane bagged a brace, including another one from the spot. Looks like he’s starting to pick up steam.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard shakes hands with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk after Saturday’s game. (GETTY IMAGES)

THE LAST WORD

“I’ll tell you the truth, after the World Cup I wanted to leave. It’s my dream to play in Spain. I could stay at Chelsea for the rest of my career. But there is also the possibility that I can leave in a year or two. But I love Chelsea and it will be easy to stay.”

That quote from Eden Hazard must have sunk a few hearts at Stamford Bridge after Saturday’s thrilling draw against Liverpool.

There will never be any shortage of demand for the Belgian superstar, but in the current world of soccer transfers, all that he has to do is turn in a transfer request and the whole stack of cards at Chelsea could come crumbling down.

It’s hard to argue that there’s a more important player to his club in the Premier League and, if he wants to go to Real Madrid, we’re not sure how Chelsea keeps him.

He scored the Blues’ only goal in the 1-1 draw with first place in the league at stake, but his team fell just short of getting all three points in the end.

We’d hazard a guess, but we think that as long as Chelsea is winning, Hazard will be happy. But if disaster strikes, as it seemingly does every other season, he might finally get his “dream” move.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies