LONDON: No-one at Manchester United can do anything right. Captain Antonio Valencia has had to issue a public apology after he ‘liked’ an Instagram post calling for the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho.
This is the state of confusion to which United have been reduced amid their worst league start in 29 years and failure to defeat a modest Valencia team in the Champions League.
Valencia the player sought to put the record straight by saying: “Yesterday, I liked a post on Instagram without reading the text that accompanied the picture. These are not my views and I apologise for this. I am fully supportive of the manager and my teammates. We are all giving our everything to improve the results.”
The Ecuadoran had missed Saturday’s defeat at West Ham but returned to the starting line-up on Tuesday for a draw which extended United’s winless run to four matches in all competitions. United’s players were booed off the pitch at the final whistle.
This sense of confusion was exacerbated by United’s failure to judge Manchester’s rush-hour traffic. This led to their late arrival and forced kick-off to be delayed by five minutes for which they are likely to face disciplinary action from UEFA.
Mourinho’s side struggled to stamp their authority on their first Champions League home match since Sevilla inflicted a shock defeat in March. Valencia keeper Neto denied Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku while Marcus Rashford hit the bar. The failure to win intensified the pressure on Mourinho ahead of Saturday’s home game against Newcastle.
Failure to beat Rafa Benitez’s poor Magpies will leave Mourinho’s job status hanging by a thread heading into the international break which is a favourite time for struggling clubs to sack their managers.
On Tuesday night, old United hero Paul Scholes repeated his attacks on Mourinho, saying: “I am surprised he survived after Saturday, the performance was that bad. I think his mouth is probably out of control and I think he is embarrassing the club.”
Mourinho refused to respond to Scholes but criticised the talents of his own players instead, saying: “The players raised the level of their efforts but in some crucial positions in the building up phase, we don’t have the technical quality to build from the back.”
That United’s manager should say his team are not up to the standard and style of Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham was a damaging personal admission. After all United, under Mourinho, have spent £300m on the new players he wanted.