Neil Humphreys: Attack or leave, Jose
Man United must demand positive approach or they'll fade away
Jose Mourinho still doesn't understand the Manchester United way.
He continues to churn out the oldest coaching cliche after every colourless display, repeating the tired line with all the enthusiasm of a dying parrot.
Football management is a result business. He's in the business of getting results and the Sevilla defeat was an off night.
Actually, there were two off nights. United managed just four shots on target across 180 wretched minutes of masochistic punishment. But defeats happen, right?
Just look at the Liverpool game. That was Mourinho at his Machiavellian best, armed with only his favourite chess pieces and surrounded by those Scouse dandies.
And the grandmaster prevailed. Mourinho is at his most imperious when he's cornered. But the Red Devils aren't mongrels feeding off scraps. They are finessed thoroughbreds being led astray.
United followers who feel obligated to champion Mourinho's suffocating, joyless tactics against half-decent opposition not only reveal their myopia, but also perhaps a lack of awareness about their own club.
United, like Liverpool, have endured because they persevered with principles passed down from gruff, working-class Scotsmen who never forgot their roots.
Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly conducted the same team-talks. Here's a ball. Keep it for as long as possible. Entertain. Offer blue-collar punters an escape for 90 minutes.
Prawn sandwich-munchers replaced factory workers at the Theatre of Dreams, but the philosophy hung around and the world reciprocated by making United the most popular team on the planet.
But Mourinho has turned Old Trafford into the theatre of fitful dozing. There are no daydream believers, just 11 regimented automatons, each one stripped of intensity and filled with defensive fears and insecurities.
Sevilla are fifth in La Liga. Their domestic goal difference is minus six. In the Champions League, they won two of their six group games. At Old Trafford, they were a gimme putt for a side with twice the payroll.
But Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella played anarchist to Mourinho's masochist. He allowed Ever Banega to roam where he pleased.
The dominant Argentinian was a joy to behold.
Mourinho had his Banega, too. Perhaps even a superior version. But Juan Mata started on the bench, where he kept Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial company.
Mourinho granted La Liga's fifth-placed toilers so much respect, it was a wonder he didn't bend the knee and kiss Montella's hand.
His decision to start with Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini as two holding midfielders in a bid to strangle his own team, offered a grim glimpse of United's future.
Mourinho will make no concessions.
He's not interested in football as entertainment. His ingrained caution and manic obsession with micro-managing, even against second-tier clubs, is a real problem for a couple of reasons.
First, he's still not getting it. He talks about managing a "big club", but he doesn't.
He manages United as if he's still in charge of affluent underdogs like Porto or Chelsea or Inter Milan against Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, where he pulled off his most famous tactical victory in the Nou Camp eight years ago.
Even his title-winning, record-breaking stint at Real Madrid was achieved largely on the counter-attack. The Madridistas were rarely allowed off the leash.
Worst of all, the stifling stuff doesn't even work anymore.
Guardiola has navigated an alternative, more appealing path to victory. The roots of Manchester City's dominance can be traced back to Barcelona, a connection that Mourinho seems to despise as a point of principle.
So it's not going to get any better at United. Throwing £100 million (S$182 million) at Robert Lewandowski will achieve nothing beyond having three frustrated, isolated strikers at the club, instead of two.
Alexis Sanchez lost the ball 42 times against Sevilla, a record for an individual in the Champions League this season.
The Chilean hardly covered himself in glory, but how often did he look up for runners who weren't there?
United have spent £300 million in two seasons and were short on productivity, invention and excitement.
They were boring and easily beaten, two irrefutable facts that should be discussed in the boardroom.
Mourinho's refusal to acknowledge the club's attacking DNA underlines his arrogance. But his failure to find a winning way betrays his dogma.
The game has moved on. He hasn't. Nor have the Red Devils.
Mourinho must embrace a more adventurous spirit or Manchester United and their manager will be left behind for good.