Jose Mourinho will face more questions after Manchester United draw at Southampton

Aditya Devavrat 00:59 02/12/2018
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Jose Mourinho's team selection will come under scrutiny again.

Manchester United dropped points for the second-straight Premier League game on Saturday, despite producing a fighting performance after finding themselves 2-0 down early against Southampton.

Though they had levelled the scores by half-time, the Red Devils couldn’t find a winner and thus stumbled to a draw yet again. The result was not a good one for Southampton either, as they remain in the relegation zone after their failure to hold on for a win.

Here’s a look at the talking points from the game.

WHAT WAS MOURINHO THINKING?

Jose Mourinho wishes the media wouldn’t question him so much. Then he goes out and does things that everyone will question.

What was thinking behind that selection? Most observers had no clue who was playing where when they saw the team sheet. On the pitch, it seemed like the players themselves felt the same way.

United’s official app labelled the team’s starting XI a 4-1-2-1-2 with Pogba at the tip of a diamond and Matic the defensive shield ahead of the game. By the end it looked more like a 3-5-2, with Matic dropping deep enough to be considered a third centre-back.

In between, the confusion led to a disjointed display that saw the team fall 2-0 behind within the first 20 minutes. It’s a credit to this team that they were level by half-time, and yet their failure to find a winner in the second half eroded much of that credit.

Mourinho did himself no favours after half-time, either. All three of his substitutions were like-for-like.

Chasing a goal, having emphasized the importance of three points, the manager couldn’t countenance taking off one of his defensive midfielders for an attacking player. What was the thinking behind any of his decisions?

Mourinho is going to face the music again after Saturday's selection decisions.

Mourinho is going to face the music again after Saturday’s selection decisions.

PRINCE-OR-PAUPER POGBA CAN’T FIND CONSISTENCY

In one roughly 10-second sequence in the first half, when the score was still 0-0, United’s record signing sumptuously brought a dropping ball under his spell while slipping and on the ground, then overran the ball to give it away, and, when it came back to him, misplaced a simple pass.

Has there ever been a more typically Paul Pogba sequence of events?

In this display there was a collection of strong runs, efficient switches of play, well-judged passes to his forwards, and one audacious attempt at a bicycle kick that showed his talent. There were also misplaced passes, poor touches, moments where he was easily barged off the ball, and ill-judged combativeness as his frustrations threatened to boil over.

Pogba’s entire 90 minutes were a microcosm of his United career.

Disputes with the manager or not, the World Cup winner needs to have a hard look at his own game. There is no doubt that he’s never shown the consistency in a United shirt that he did this summer in helping France lift the famous trophy.

The weekly question over which United will turn up applies to their star player as well. Which Pogba, prince or pauper?

Another one of those days for Paul Pogba.

Another one of those days for Paul Pogba.

MARK HUGHES LIMPS ON

Speaking of wondering what managers are thinking, a penny for Mark Hughes’ his thoughts at the moment.

A team that had managed just 10 goals in 13 league games going into this fixture managed two in the first 20 minutes, yet failed to win.

Southampton lead the league in points dropped from winning positions this season, with two more dropped here. And the draw means that Hughes has still only won three league games since taking charge in March.

Yet he will point to those first 20 minutes, as well as the moments in the second half where Southampton troubled United and threatened to find a winner, to say yet again that his team played well, deserved more, and were simply unlucky.

Is that enough to save his job? Reports earlier this week suggested that Hughes only had two games to make his case, and Southampton lost to Leicester City on penalties in the Carabao Cup and then threw away a two-goal lead on Saturday.

The team’s performance didn’t carry any hint that the players aren’t playing for the manager – but they’re not playing well enough for him, either. And perhaps they’re not playing well enough to prevent his sacking.

Was Saints' display enough to keep Mark Hughes' job?

Was Saints’ display enough to keep Mark Hughes’ job?

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