Manchester United face a leadership crisis
Neville blasts United's 'soft centre' and he is right: Mourinho lacks leaders
|(Leighton Baines 89-pen)||(Zlatan Ibrahimovic 42)|
A vulnerability courses through Manchester United's veins and it's taking them hostage.
As they attempted to run down the clock at Goodison Park yesterday morning (Singapore time), Everton popped up with the classic sucker-punch, denying the Red Devils a win they just about deserved.
Marouane Fellaini copped most of the blame for charging out recklessly to concede an 89th-minute penalty, which Leighton Baines converted to earn the Toffees a 1-1 draw.
But the root cause is more worrying than just having one player with hot-headed impulses.
When the players looked around for guidance towards the end of the match, all they saw were equally clueless faces on the pitch.
In United's rush to assemble the best squad money can buy, they neglected to find the most crucial component: A leader.
In the past, the players could expect to see a reassuring glance from a Roy Keane or a Nemanja Vidic in the heat of battle, but now they find themselves drowned out by similarly terrified squeals.
Captain Wayne Rooney was suspended, but no one could tell if he can still walk into the first 11 on merit alone.
Michael Carrick's experience and numerous title triumphs tick some boxes, but possession of the skipper's armband demands way more than that.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scorer of United's goal, is endowed with aura and charisma but, unfortunately, also carries with him a Jupiter-sized ego.
Paul Pogba, the face of France's next great era, is too young to earn everyone's respect.
The lack of leadership in a Jose Mourinho team is entirely out of character.
For his teams at Chelsea over two stints were built around a core of strong characters such as Petr Cech, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard.
This United team under Mourinho are almost unrecognisable from those under legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson who were used to be known for their tenacious streak, one which powered them back from the jaws of defeat on many occasions.
THROWING AWAY LEADS
The Red Devils are now throwing away precious leads and Mourinho doesn't seem to have a solution to that.
To rub salt in the wound, United had actually looked the better side against Everton.
Earlier in the season, they had also conceded late equalisers to Arsenal and Stoke City.
Ex-United striker Dwight Yorke said on talkSPORT: "They can't seem to get the job done at the moment.
"They are playing reasonably well and got some good results in the League Cup.
"But they just can't seem to close games out and that is their problem this season.
"It's very unusual for Man United (to concede late goals) because over the years, we have been able to close games out."
Former captain Gary Neville also frowned at the soft centre of the current United side.
He said: "Mourinho will be devastated that his team have a softness to them and can't see games out.
"That is a manager who has been the best in the last 10 years at seeing games out and getting results and making sure his team don't concede with five minutes to go.
"At the moment, they don't represent him in terms of what he normally delivers."
Ibra denies kicking Coleman in the head
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has denied deliberately kicking Seamus Coleman in the head, saying he could have made the Everton defender "fall asleep" if it had been on purpose.
Ibrahimovic tangled with Coleman early in the second half of yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 1-1 draw between the sides at Goodison Park.
Referee Michael Oliver did not appear to see the incident, leaving open the possibility of retrospective disciplinary action from the Football Association.
Speaking to MUTV, Ibrahimovic said: "It was a physical game. They played hard.
You have to make a decision because when my teams are playing pragmatic football and winning matches and winning titles, you say it is not right and nice. Now you say what matters is to get results, no matter what.Jose Mourinho claims he is being judged unfairly by critics
"I heard one of the commentators say I kicked someone in the head on purpose, but it was a 50-50 duel and he pulled me down.
Everton are not a passing team any more like they were in the past. Everton are a team that play direct: goalkeeper direct, Ashley Williams direct, Funes Mori direct. Everybody direct.Mourinho blasts Everton as a long-ball team
"Trust me, if I want to kick someone in the head, I know how to kick someone in the head and make him fall asleep. That is the only thing I have to say." - PA SPORT