Mourinho’s make or break October featuring trips to Liverpool and Chelsea
Robbie Purves | 17 October 2016
Mourinho’s make or break October
Manchester United face a decisive October, with a a crucial nine days of action ahead of Jose Mourinho’s men.
The Old Trafford outfit face Liverpool in the Premier League, Fenerbahce in the Europa League, Chelsea back on league duty and Manchester City in the EFL Cup, kicking off this Monday. This could make or break United’s season, will they fight for the title, or experience another disappointing campaign?
Their run of four tough games in quick succession could potentially scupper the side on three fronts if United don’t step up.
In light of this, Coral writers look at Man Utd’s make or break October…
Rampant Reds pose threat
Liverpool are first up for the Red Devils after the international break and the clash couldn’t arrive at a worse time for United.
After an impressive 4-1 thumping of reigning league champions Leicester City, Mourinho’s men took a step backwards, drawing with Stoke City. The Red Devils created chances, but couldn’t find a cutting edge to pull away from the Potters.
Jurgen Klopp’s flying Reds come into the matchup on the back of five straight wins in all competitions and, worryingly for Mourinho, possess arguably the best attack in the league.
Combine this with the fact that Liverpool haven’t been beaten at home this term, and a positive result at Anfield looks a push. However, United have won the last four league matches between the two.
A win for Liverpool would truly cement their credentials as title challengers, severely denting Man Utd’s hopes – providing them with the worst possible start to a difficult period.
Three points for United however, could be the spark the side needs to kickstart their campaign and silence the doubters. The Red Devils are 13/5 with Coral to come out on top on Merseyside.
Second string selection for Fenerbahce fixture
An unsuccessful trip to Feyenoord in United’s first Europa League away game, sees huge pressure mounted on the Fenerbahce fixture that closely follows an Anfield outing.
Collecting three points is now a must against a Robin van Persie-led Istanbul outfit, if United hope to progress.
However, there remains a question over Mourinho’s willingness to take the competition seriously. Previously, the Portuguese manager has produced some fairly disparaging comments on the competition.
At Chelsea, the two-time Champions League winner said: “I don’t want to win the Europa League. It would be a big disappointment for me. I don’t want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition… it is not good for a big club to go there and win it.”
Fenerbahce aren’t doing too well in the Super Lig, so fielding a second string selection could be enough to overcome Dick Advocaat’s outfit. Despite their recent difficulties, Man Utd are still favourites at 6/1 to win the Europa League this term.
With a congested fixture list, expect the manager to field a weakened lineup, instead conserving his players for a trip to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho will see a loss here as nothing too consequential to his ultimate goal of Premier League glory. Three points and progression in the competition would mean yet more games, something the Portuguese could probably do without.
Former Blues boss returns to the Bridge
Mourinho will then return to Chelsea for another crucial Premier League outing. The new United boss left Chelsea by mutual consent last season after a downturn in form. He lost nine of their 16 league games and the Blues were a point off the relegation places when he departed.
Therefore, expect ‘The Special One’ to have laid out one of his perfect tactical master plans. Chelsea have only won once in their last four league games and were taken apart by Arsenal a few weeks back.
Depending on how the Liverpool match goes, the atmosphere surrounding United could be confident or sour. If Mourinho fails to collect positive results from both Anfield and the Bridge, expect huge pressure to mount.
After already dropping points to Manchester City, Watford and now Stoke, there is little margin for error if a title tilt is to be sustained. Mourinho is 9/4 to beat his former club on his return.
Mourinho’s second round with Pep
Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have history, and a new chapter was written when the two met at Old Trafford. Man City’s Catalan coach came out on top in a September league battle, a game in which they performed on another level to United.
However, now the Manchester rivals face-off in an EFL Cup round of 16 match. Mourinho has taken the League Cup seriously throughout his career and has won a domestic cup at each of his managerial jobs – he is 7/1 to lift the EFL Cup this season.
If the previous three fixtures have gone to plan, this will give the manager a chance to put a cherry on the top of a difficult group of fixtures.
Alternatively, if the Red Devils come out of the nine days battered and bruised, you have to feel United’s chances of league or cup glory this season will be over.
From the kick-off at Anfield, Mourinho will know this period could define his early tenure at United.
Red Devils fans, what do you think of Mourinho make or break October? Tell us in the comments below.