For Manchester United’s 659 million fans, it’s a chance to dream. They’re just one step away from an appearance in the English Football League Cup quarterfinals. It’ll take another performance like the spirited one that saw off the mighty Cobblers of Northampton Town, but things are looking up following a week that consisted of one fresh hell after another.
When Sir Alex Ferguson stood in front of the Old Trafford crowd on his final day in charge and said to supporters “so your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important”, he would’ve been much better off turning around and delivering that same statement to his players.
Following three straight defeats, the Daily Telegraph reported that the club’s players had been shocked by Mourinho’s public shaming of players, including left-back Luke Shaw and winger Jesse Lingard, leading them to question his fit for the role.
If this doesn’t sound familiar, it should. Last April, Louis van Gaal reportedly lost the dressing room after criticizing youngster Marcus Rashford in United’s 3-0 defeat against Tottenham.
The April before that, David Moyes lost the dressing room after senior players advocated for change, making it clear that they no longer stood by Moyes and that he was destroying what Ferguson had built.
Well, look at the Red Devils now!
They’ve seen off the challenge of a Northampton Town Cobblers side that plays its home matches in a sinkhole, an accomplishment that Monty Python’s King of Swamp Castle would heartily cheer for.
.@ntfc v @ManUtd - facts & figures comparison of the clubs #EFLCup #NTFCvMUFC pic.twitter.com/ja9xjld9fi— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 21, 2016
It wasn’t easy for United against the League One side. Alex Revell’s 42-minute penalty evened the score at 1-1 before half time. United weren’t able to pull ahead until the 68th minute — Ander Herrera providing the go-ahead goal and Marcus Rashford adding a third in the 75th.
More worringly for United is that some problems just refuse to go away. The Daily Star rated Wayne Rooney’s performance as a 5/10, The Peoples Person went with 4.5/10 and ESPN FC went with a meager 3/10.
Manchester United’s midfield conundrum will only be exacerbated by Michael Carrick’s fine display, and United’s drawing of Manchester City for the fourth round isn’t ideal.
Jose Mourinho will find it incredibly inconvenient as United are now slated to play four games between October 20th and October 29th, including an away trip to his old club Chelsea.
Presently, the weekend match against Leicester City looms ever larger, its ramifications surely pointing towards much-needed respite or another fresh hell for the club.
Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming