Three Things Mourinho Must Take Care Of Ahead Of Thier “Poisoned” Fixture List

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Seven games into the Premier League campaign, it has become increasingly clear that Manchester United are very much a work in progress.

A run of three successive defeats was arrested by three consecutive wins in all competitions, only for the Red Devils to wastefully surrender two points at home to Stoke City in a game they ought to have won. Manager Jose Mourinho has reiterated he wasn’t overly disappointed with the three losses and wasn’t over the moon with three victories on the bounce thereafter. This suggests the Portuguese maverick is completely unfazed by his side’s inconsistency and is still identifying his best squad and the correct way to maximize their potential.

While the club’s board of directors may consent to this approach, the supporters may have contrasting thoughts in mind, given a run of fiendish fixtures right after the second international break. United resume proceedings with a daunting trip to Anfield to take on arch-rivals Liverpool on Monday, October 17 and visit Mourinho’s former employers Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later that week. Sandwiched between the two blockbuster away clashes is a tricky home game against Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the Europa League with Manchester City returning to Old Trafford the week after that in a blue chip EFL Cup tie. Mourinho has labelled this challenging and congested list ‘a poisoned gift’ for his side and while he bemoaned the day reserved for the Liverpool game, he insisted it would be exciting for the supporters. That is predicated on his side’s performances, though.

A difficult period awaits the 53-year-old and the Premier League giants. Here are some of the points Mourinho must address once his players return from national duty:

1.       Squad rotation

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Four games in ten days is tough for any side, let alone one preparing to take on three of the Premier League’s big boys. Mourinho must shuffle his squad as effectively as possible, especially for the Fenerbahce game. It is widely believed he will stick with the crux of his team for the trips to Liverpool and Chelsea and the visit of Manchester City though. Players like Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović are expected to begin those tests although they might not feature for the side on Thursday in Europe. With a plethora of talent at his disposal, Mourinho has a selection headache, albeit one he wouldn’t complain about given the aforementioned situation.

2.       Discipline:

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This is absolutely imperative for the manager to tackle. Ander Herrera’s nasty challenge on Joe Allen on Sunday afternoon could have resulted in a straight red card. Fortunately, the Spaniard was let off the hook with a booking, his second of the season. With Marouane Fellaini on a tightrope with three yellow cards to his name and Paul Pogba guilty of committing silly fouls in the middle of the park, Mourinho must do everything in his capacity to curb rash play. The downside to this factor is that it is never entirely in the manager’s hands and the Liverpool game in particular, could yet blow the set-up out of the window. Ibrahimović is also known for a fiery temper and with so much to play for in the days to come, Mourinho has got to coach his players in accordance to both his and the club’s mindset.

3.       Staying level-headed:

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Victories can boost a team’s confidence while defeats can hamper them. In this difficult phase for United, it is important that the players remain focused and don’t experience a rollercoaster of emotions, given a wide permutation of possible results. Regardless of how United perform in these games, Mourinho must ensure the squad does not either take success to the head or failure to the heart. This can obviously be aided by the limited recuperation period between games although the word of the manager holds paramount importance.