It has been well documented how Manchester United have struggled this season, facing obstacles that they have yet to overcome, and with a manager that looks tiresome in his approach.
The Red Devils, once again, disappointed in their most recent match, against Valencia in the Champions League, and left the pitch at full time, after drawing 0-0, to sarcastic applause and echoes of jeering.
Mourinho might brush this criticism and pressure off publicly, but he knows that his team are coming up short and hasn’t appeared to find a solution to combat the issues at hand.
Newcastle, their next opponent in the Premier League, might have also endured a torrid time domestically, but they will target United’s defence and feel confident that they can come away from Old Trafford with something to show for it.
In the most recent fixture between these two clubs in February of last season, Newcastle United came away the victors. Rafa Benitez has a habit of upsetting the odds against José Mourinho, with the two managers coming to blows earlier in their careers.
However, this game has a draw written all over it. With the Red Devils in such horrific form, the Magpies should come to Old Trafford and feel liberated to go and attack such a feeble-looking defence. Newcastle have had troubles of their own this season, and are currently without a win, but they usually raise their performance when coming up against United.
The Magpies have consistently been undermined by their owner, Mike Ashley, and have Benitez to thank for remaining in the Premier League last season. The former Real Madrid manager has enjoyed great success in the past against Mourinho, understanding how to get around the defensive-minded formation he uses.
Although Newcastle have only managed to score four goals compared to United’s 10, they will have chances to put their opponents to the sword due to the ill-discipline in the heart of Mourinho’s defence. Wolves, a newly-promoted side, showed how to carve the Red Devils apart by dragging their centre-halves out of position and playing around the midfield.
For that reason, William Hill’s evens (1/1) bet for both teams to score is a must.
For one reason or another, most of the flack given to Manchester United revolves around Paul Pogba. Although he is not blameless and has overstepped the mark on more than one occasion, the Frenchman’s performances have at least been more inspiring than his teammates’.
If anything is to happen for United this season, it will come through the central midfielder. Already with four goals to his name and two assists in all competitions, Pogba has shown glimpses of his quality and what he can offer on the pitch.
With centre forward Romelu Lukaku misfiring and lacking a considerable amount of confidence, it might just take Pogba to step up to the plate and get United ticking over - as he did against BSC Young Boys in the Champions League.
It also appears that the World Cup winner is first in line to take penalties. Manchester United have already been awarded three penalties in the Premier League this season, with one of those coming at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season. While Pogba can score from in-and-around the edge of the box, he is perhaps more likely to strike home from the penalty spot.
Pogba is 9/4 with Paddy Power to find the back of the net at any time throughout the 90 minutes. If Man Utd are to record points from this game, they are going to need him to drag them through it.
If anything has been clear this season, it is that Manchester United have not been blessed in front of goal so far. With Alexis Sánchez firing blanks and looking immensely underwhelming, Jesse Lingard enduring a goal drought that dates back to February, and Lukaku lacking the vibrancy normally associated with his game, the Red Devils have had to rely on players such as Pogba to find the goals.
There might have only been seven games played in the Premier League, but their across-town rivals, Manchester City, have already managed to score 11 more goals in that period of time. Such is United’s ineffectiveness in the final third of the pitch, they occupy 10th place, surrounded by teams they should be far superior to.
Newcastle, too, have struggled for goals, but that is hardly to be expected due to the underinvestment that has taken place since their return to England’s top division. Fans are reluctant to shift the blame to Benitez, given what he has achieved with the club already and the lack of resources at his disposal.
The paradigm shift from United’s free flowing attack under Sir Alex Ferguson to what Mourinho has been delivering is remarkable. There appears to be a lack of structure transitioning from defence into attack, with players now looking petrified to play at Old Trafford.
If ever there was a time for Newcastle to play Manchester United, this would be it. In a stadium where the aura and reputation has gone, the Magpies’ players should feel sanguine they can return to the North East with points on the board.
For the reason that Benitez will deploy a defensive block with the aim to the counter attack against Mourinho’s usually defensive system, there is bound to be a lack of goals for fans to enjoy. Coming off the back of a 0-0 against Valencia at home, United are likely to struggle once more in the goals department.
Bet with the Expert Edge - Stats, Insights & Specials
Read Review ||BET NOW||T&Cs Apply. 18+ Gamble Responsibly|
Get Yourself Over The Line
Read Review ||BET NOW||18+. T&C Apply|
Gallops, Trots, Greyhounds & More - Join Now
Read Review ||BET NOW||18+. T&C Apply|
Be the first to receive the latest welcome offers, free bets, tips and strategy