Watford, Sunday Peoplesport11 Watford piled on the misery for Jose Mourinho as Manchester United crashed to a third successive defeat in an embarrassing 3-1 loss at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Mourinho’s side were rocked by Etienne Capoue’s first half opener and, although Marcus Rashford equalised after the break, United capitulated in the closing stages. Juan Camilo Zuniga restored Watford’s lead with seven minutes left before Troy Deeney’s penalty condemned Mourinho to a third consecutive defeat for the first time since he was in charge at Porto in 2002.
It was the first time United had lost three in a row since the unlamented Louis van Gaal presided over four successive defeats in December last year. Adding to the indignity for United, it was their first loss in 30 years against Watford, who ended a run of 11 successive defeats against the Manchester giants.
United are already lagging six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and the feelgood factor following the three wins that marked the start of the Mourinho era has been completely erased. After losing to City, Feyenoord in the Europa League and now Watford over the last week, the size of the task facing Mourinho as he rebuilds United has been laid bare.
“I feel the first moment we had a defeat, a difficult situation, some of the boys are having a bit of difficulty coping with the negativity,” Mourinho said. They looked out of sync from the moment United goalkeeper David de Gea collided with Chris Smalling as they made a hash of dealing with Sebastian Prodl’s towering cross.
When de Gea dropped the ball straight to Odion Ighalo a goal seemed certain, but the Watford striker fired hurriedly wide of the unguarded net from the edge of the penalty area. It was a shocking miss, but even that escape couldn’t shake United from their lethargy and de Gea had to throw himself to his left to claw away a goalbound header from Deeney moments later.
Paul Pogba has struggled to live up his world record fee since joining United and, amid another tepid display, the France midfielder gave a sudden glimpse of his ability when he quickly shifted the ball to set himself for a curling 25-yard strike that left Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes rooted to the spot as it cannoned off the crossbar. -AFP
Here is a look at the key talking points from Vicarage Road.
United have big problems at the back
The usually reliable David De Gea was all over the place early on. He smashed into Chris Smalling from behind giving Odion Ighalo a chance which he should’ve buried early on and bafflingly lead with his legs when trying to save Capoue’s opener.
Smalling was making his first appearance of the season and didn’t look solid alongside Eric Bailly, with Watford far superior in the air. A headache for Mourinho—made even worse by the statue-esque defending for the late double.
Watford are a different proposition this season
Etienne Capoue may prove the bargain of the season, and is thriving in a more advanced role than he enjoyed at Spurs. His opener saw him arriving late into the box in what became a recurring theme, with the Frenchman looking a player transformed.
Troy Deeney and Ighalo dominated in the air and Walter Mazzarri has given the Hornets a real Italian steel, with Sebastian Prodl a real rock at the back. And super sub Zuniga shows they have the bench to change games.
This United midfield isn’t working
Paul Scholes said before the game that Paul Pogba needs to be in a midfield three. He was today, but even then the former Juventus man failed to get a stranglehold on the game.
Wayne Rooney had a lot of the ball but was rarely in a position good enough to do anything useful with it—it’s almost as if the England captain has to be shoehorned into the squad. A trio of Pogba, Rooney and Fellaini doesn’t look the answer.
LVG’s mentality still remains
There is definitely a hangover from the Louis van Gaal era. Just a month ago Mourinho aid: “After two years, there are things in their brains that are automatic, and that’s difficult to change.”
On this evidence, he’s 100 percent correct. After two seasons of disjointed attacking play, some of these players don’t seem to have shaken off the Dutchman’s influence.
Rashford always comes up with the goods
Once again Marcus Rashford appeared to be the saviour with his goal just after the hour mark. He’s still occasionally naive in possession and ran up a couple of blind allies, but his ability and positioning in the box is exceptional. Expect him to nail down a first-time place, especially with Anthony Martial so off colour. -THE SUN