MU Women’s 100% record in the league came to an end last week against Durham Ladies. How? I’m not so sure. The ball just didn’t go in the net. It was one of those days. A mixture of an inspired performance from Hannah Reid in the Durham goal, and some wasteful finished on Utd’s behalf saw the points shared. In spite of that, there was much to be positive about from our point of view. Another clean sheet, which means Siobhan Chamberlain has not conceded a goal in the league in 360 minutes of play. In addition, Lauren James gave another great contribution for Utd; she seems to be going from strength to strength. What a prospect.
In addition, I was eager to pick Damon’s brain and get his thoughts on Jose Mourinho. He maintains the time has come for a change. Do you agree? Let us know.
Hi Damon. Utd’s 100% record in the league is no more, but how did that game finish 0-0?
Hello Jimmy! It was an astonishing scoreline given the amount of chances we had. Any other day, that game would have finished 4-0 to United. As happens on many occasions with the men’s side, the opposition goalkeeper seems to have their game of the season against Manchester United, and Sunday was no different for the women. Hannah Reid was definitely star of the show for the visitors and I’m sure assistant manager Willie Kirk was not surprised at her performance given their time together at Hibs. Of course, he then signed her again when he departed for his job at Bristol City. Like you say, the winning run in the league is over; but the undefeated one continues!
In terms of positives, another clean sheet for Chamberlain in goal; did Durham offer much threat at the weekend
Indeed. That’s 360 minutes in the league now without conceding, but it was a fairly quiet afternoon for the former England No.1, in all honesty. I think Durham came with a game plan of not losing the game and it worked well in the end. Chamberlain’s gloves did get used, but they were comfortable, routine saves. The away side defended really well and stuck to their game plan. Further, they rode their luck at times but it paid off in the end and fair play to them. Given our recent results, you can’t blame them for trying to grind out a point.
Although we didn’t get the 3 points, what will Utd look to take from that performance?
There’s always positives to take from a game and this one was no different. As I said, on another day it could have easily been an emphatic win again. The tactics were good, the play was good and they defended comfortably when needed. The only downside was that some of the finishing let us down at times. The goalkeeper made some brilliant saves throughout the 90 minutes, but on a few occasions we missed some good chances which in recent weeks would have been put away.
Who stood out from a Utd point of view?
You’re going to get bored of hearing me say this every week, but Lauren James was the standout player for most of the fans (not just me) on Sunday. Once again, she bossed that midfield. She loves nothing more than turning and heading for goal, always wanting to drive forward. She could have scored a couple of fantastic long distance efforts that were saved equally well and she also hit the post in the final minute of injury time. Her first game as a 17 year old was another good one.
The ladies are not in action for another two weeks when they face Charlton at home. what can you tell us about Charlton ladies?
Yes. Another International break, which could actually have come at a good time after the recent 3 games coming in quick succession. I said last week Durham would be our toughest test to date in the league and I was right. I expect Charlton to be another tricky test. They too have an undefeated start to their league campaign so far with a good 4-1 home win over Lewes last time out, who also had their winning streak in the league come to an end with that result.
Who is their most dangerous player?
I’m going for a duo, strikers Kit Graham and Gemma Bryan. They have 7 goals between them in their last 4 games, so Siobhan Chamberlain may have some work to do to keep her clean sheet run going in this one.
I’d like to ask you about the men for a moment. What is your stance on Jose Mourinho? Does he have your backing or is it time for a change?
If we must! He did, but not anymore I’m afraid: enough is enough. I’ve always backed him prior to recent weeks and I was over the moon when he first came to Old Trafford, but something needs to change. He’s not only sucking the joy out of the players, but it’s the fans now too and it’s gone too far for a string of good results to change things. On top of that, his tactics seem outdated now, football has moved on. He hasn’t, and being the stubborn man he is, I don’t see him changing for the better.
There is clearly a power struggle between Paul Pogba and JM. Do you think certain players pulling against JM has undermined his authority?
Although he rightly won’t admit it, Jose and Pogba obviously aren’t getting on, and the downside for Mourinho is that Paul Pogba is one of the most loved and influential players amongst other teammates. If he’s down, whether it be performances or attitude, then it will rub off on others around him and unfortunately in this day and age of player power, they will stick together. Unless there’s a drastic u-turn on their relationship, then it’s only going to end one way I’m afraid. I can see us finishing outside the top 4 come the end of the season.
How much are Utd suffering as a result of lack of investment in the summer? Or are you of the view JM has been backed, but bought badly?
I don’t buy the arguments that the squad is not good enough. On their day, our best Xl – if fully fit of course – should be beating almost every club in the league. You can’t tell me a player like Lindelof, who was one of the best centre-backs at the World Cup can’t cement a starting place in our defence week in week out alongside someone like Bailly. The same goes for Sanchez. He was world class at Arsenal, so why isn’t he at United? It’s down to the manager and the players desire to play for the manager. Neither of which are working right now.
Where do we go from here?
If it was me, Jose would go because the change in performances and results needs to be quick, but like so many, the question is who do you replace him with? Long term, I’d maybe go with Poch, but I’m not sure he’d be lured away so easily during the season. The other, and most likely is Zidane. He would be my immediate choice with Carrick as his No.2. He’s only had a short career in management but it’s been a successful one. In addition, he’s won it all as a player and a coach. Another huge draw with Zidane is he’s a France legend, something Pogba wants to become. I certainly think he’d gain the immediate respect from him, Martial and the rest of the squad. He would give them a huge lift. Will it happen? I’m not so hopeful……….