If there’s good news to come from Manchester United’s home draw against newly promoted Wolverhampton on Saturday, it’s that José Mourinho and Paul Pogba agree on what the problem is. If there’s bad news to come from that good news, it’s that Mourinho and Pogba more or less think it’s the other one’s fault.
“I was expecting more from my attacking players,” Mourinho said after the drab game that ended at 1-1. He continued:
Our performance was not consistent, not creative and not dynamic. The way we started we were lucky to be the first team to score. From a metal point of view their approach was more for a football match than ours.
I think the result is fair. They deserved their point and we deserve the punishment of only getting one point.
Clearly the coach wasn’t too impressed by his team’s performance, especially not in the Red Devils’ attack.
Pogba’s assessment of the game was similar. “We should play much better against Wolves,” the Frenchman said to the press yesterday. Pogba also noted his team’s mental laxity (“maybe we should have showed more hunger in some parts”), and he also singled out United’s attacking shortcomings. To wit:
When we’re at home we should attack, attack, attack. That’s Old Trafford. We’re here to attack. I think teams are scared when they see Manchester United attacking and attacking.
That was our mistake. We should just attack and press, like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season. When we play like this, it’s easier for us.
However, when asked where this lack of attacking focus originates, Pogba was clear that it’s the manager’s fault:
I can’t tell you because I’m a player. It’s not me. I’m not the manager, I cannot, like, say that, but obviously we should show more options of playing.
But I cannot say that, because I’m a player. That’s my way of thinking - we should move better. We should move more, yeah.
Mourinho, then, “was expecting more” from his attacking players, and was at a loss why Wolves “were more aggressive, had more intent and I don’t know why but they were more motivated.” Meanwhile Pogba—the face of the team and probably its most important attacker—thinks United’s failure of coherence and intensity on the attacking end is Mourinho’s responsibility. This seems like a rather large and troubling discrepancy!
If there is anything else that both Mourinho and Pogba can agree on here, it’s probably that the best way to fix the current situation—a state of affairs that already, only six matches into the season, has United an almost certainly insurmountable eight points off Liverpool’s league-leading pace—is for there to be a significant change in personnel. The problem, of course, is that it’s extremely possible that neither of these two guys’ individual idea of a perfect setup would include the other.