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If Manchester United fail to win the Premier League this season it will be because their players aren’t good enough, rather than Jose Mourinho’s management that will be to blame, according to Frank Lampard.
Lampard told Omnisport (h/t Goal’s Dejan Kalinic):
“Mourinho is a manager that likes to win, and he has a way of winning. It’s different to Pep Guardiola, different to Antonio Conte and that’s his way.
“If Manchester United don’t win the Premier League, for me it’s the quality of the players. Manchester City have a very strong squad this year, Chelsea still have a very strong squad and I think particularly the first XI, if everybody’s fit, Chelsea are very strong.
“When I look at Manchester United, they’re there around that area, but maybe the other teams can be stronger.
“I certainly don’t think it’ll be the manager, and I actually do think that Manchester United will be competitive towards the end of the season, so we’ll see.”
City seem to have a stronger squad than United—certainly in terms of strength in depth in their forward and creative positions—but it appears Lampard is defending his former Chelsea boss here.
Mourinho recruited a number of the squad at considerable expense after all, and he’s not getting the most out of the players he has.
Football writer Liam Canning noted as much after United slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Chelsea deserved the win wholeheartedly. Manchester United totally outplayed. Very worrying for Mourinho with this crop of players.
Victor Lindelof arrived in the summer from Benfica with an impressive reputation, but he has not even been named in the squad for eight of United’s 11 Premier League games, while Romelu Lukaku grabbed 11 goals in the first two months of the season but has not scored since September having cut an isolated figure in recent weeks.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed his ability when he produced a staggering 23 goals and 32 assists in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, but Mourinho has thus far been unable to coax that out of him.
The manager’s approach has also left much to be desired. ESPN’s Alex Shaw was not surprised by their poor showing at Chelsea, and his record makes for poor reading, per Goal’s Mootaz Chehade:
Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPN
Another big game no-show from United. It would be a shock to see them score in a big away game, let alone win.
Mootaz Chehade @MHChehade
Jose Mourinho’s record away to top six sides while at Man United: Played: 8 Won: 0 Goals scored: 1 https://t.co/FCBetYNofY
United have improved since the days of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, but they only mustered sixth in the league last year, and they’re already eight points behind City this season.
The players must also take some responsibility for their lacklustre form and injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba haven’t helped, but Mourinho is accountable for their success or failure.