Former Red Devils defender David May believes a lack of leadership on the pitch can partly be blamed for the vast sixteen point gap that presently exists between the red and blue halves of Manchester.
The two-time Premier League winner’s theory would certainly explain Jose Mourinho’s highly publicised ‘rant’ a fortnight ago that saw the Portuguese coach openly criticise his players while additionally detailing the club’s limited achievements in recent years. Perhaps with nobody telling cold, hard truths on the pitch Mourinho felt he must do it himself?
Whatever his motivations it was a press conference that many disapproved of with widespread accusations that the United boss was guilty of talking down his club and personnel.
“It depends on how you interpret it. I’ve heard some people say that it was the right thing to do. Others said it was the wrong thing to do. But that’s who Mourinho is and if he wants to call the players out in the press that’s his prerogative. He’s the manager of Manchester United and gets paid millions of pounds a year to do that so he has the right to say what he wants. If people don’t like it…tough. It’s down to the players to respond to it.”
“I don’t know and the press don’t know but he might be absolutely ripping their heads off in the dressing room and I’m sure at times he has done that. He’s looking for a reaction. So when they then go out onto the pitch and don’t do what they’ve been told to do maybe he got fed up with it and thought ‘you know what, the only way I can get a reaction out of them is by bringing it all out in the press’.”
The player most being alluded to here of course is full-back Luke Shaw who, not for the first time, has been singled out with negative comments from his manager. May is not wholly sympathetic to the England star’s situation.
“I think Luke is a top, top player and one of the best left-backs in the country but is he doing what Jose is asking him to do? That’s why it looks like they’ve fell out or rather people have perceived that they’ve fallen out because whenever there is a substitution it’s Luke who is taken off. After the Brighton game Jose actually said that they had worked all week on something and Luke hadn’t done it. That’s from the manager’s mouth.”
It would not be hugely surprising if the 22 year old’s immediate future lies away from Old Trafford and with United facing the possibility of a trophy-less season more departures are expected too as they make way for costly new arrivals. May is anticipating a minimum of four.
“I think we need another midfielder and a left-back would be sensible. Obviously Ash is doing ever so well but it depends on what happens with Luke. We need another centre-half too and a centre-forward to put pressure on Lukaku. I think Lukaku has been outstanding to score better than one in two when he’s up there on his own. He should be pretty pleased with his season so far”
Mention of Ashley Young prompts talk of this summer’s World Cup in Russia and with the rejuvenated, reinvented talent firmly in contention for a plane seat May is happy to go one step further and insist he’s currently ahead of all of his rivals.
“Ash deserves a starting spot in the World Cup, definitely. I think he’s been absolutely brilliant. If you’re playing regularly as a left-back for Manchester United then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be playing for England. He’s come on leaps and bounds and you would never have thought eighteen months ago that he’d be pushing Luke Shaw out of the way and making the position his own.”
In an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Mancunian giants Young is not the only player to provide cause for optimism. Up front Marcus Rashford continues to greatly impress and the lightning quick superstarlet will be keen to get his teeth into the world’s meanest back-lines on the world’s largest stage this June. The ex-Blackburn centre-back who now enjoys presenting for MUTV is clearly relishing the prospect.
“Depending on how far England get that will determine how many goals Rashford scores but if you look at the Euros in 2016 he terrorised the right-backs in very little game-time. Given the opportunity – and he will be given that opportunity – he can be the brightest star for England in the World Cup”
Another supreme talent expected to shine at the World Cup is France’s Paul Pogba and should that happen United fans will understandably wonder why they don’t see such performances on a regular basis closer to home.
Pogba is not the only big piece in the puzzle that has struggled to fit in to a side studded with big-name stars this season though at least in the case of Alexis Sanchez the Chilean has the excuse of still finding his bearings. Appreciating this May is on this occasion sympathetic, believing it is only a matter of time before we see the energetic brilliance that became the norm in North London.
“Personally I think he’s trying too hard. He wants to be involved in everything but he needs to be told that standing still is a good position. He’s an absolutely fantastic player and everybody knows that after what he did with Arsenal but he needs to take a step back and enjoy it. He’s forever looking for the ball but sometimes you have to let the ball find you”
David May’s quick-fire questions
Score prediction for Manchester United v Swansea?
3-0 - Bet on Manchester United v Swansea
Who will be the first goal-scorer?
Who will win the FA Cup this season?
Manchester United - Bet on who will win the FA Cup
Who will win the Champions League?
Juventus - Bet on who will win the Champions League