Although Manchester United could yet still finish second in the Premier League and win the FA Cup, they have been left in the dust by bitter rivals Manchester City in both the title race and in terms of entertaining football.
Jose Mourinho’s stodgy style is wearing thin among some fractions of the Old Trafford fanbase, especially in comparison to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona 2.0 that has been constructed across the city.
Good performances will often mask bad results but United’s stuttering style has left Mourinho with nothing to fall back on in galling defeats against Bristol City, Newcastle United and Sevilla, among others this season.
The former Real Madrid manager looks set to turn to the transfer market yet again in pursuit of the answer to his problems, apparently oblivious to the fact that United’s expensively-assembled squad is still lacking fluidity.
One man who is skeptical about the impact that new arrivals – including Gareth Bale, who has been linked with United again in recent weeks – will be able to have, based on Mourinho’s style of football, is Paul Parker.
Parker, speaking exclusively to 888Sport said:
“The modern game suits Pep Guardiola more than Jose Mourinho. Mind games no longer seem to work. The Premier League now gives teams who want to play football every opportunity to do so and that’s because it’s a business now and customers want value for money.
“When you look at Pep and Jose, there is a massive gap. Pep is evolving and he realises that the game offers him more scope now with what he wants to do. Mourinho; he’s not really evolved and he’s still doing what he did at Porto and Inter Milan. You have to move on.
“You want players to move on and to improve but really it comes down to getting the right teacher, a person who doesn’t only believe in himself but in the abilities of the player and what they can do.
“Manchester United could go and sign the best player in the world but is that player going to be allowed to play and show why he’s the best player in the world? No matter how much is spent, will those players be allowed to show what their best strengths are? That’s the big problem.
“We see this all the time and these players come and it doesn’t work out because they’re no longer the players they were at their former clubs. That comes down to Mourinho’s style of football.
“United will make some big signings but you wonder: are they becoming a team? You have to wonder whether someone like Gareth Bale would fit in? Where would he play?
“Bale would just be another player who wants to be a centre-forward. From a marketing side it makes sense but you have to ask if Gareth Bale would be comfortable there and given freedom.
“You have to say that Manchester United haven’t been good enough. It’s as simple as that. [Pep] doesn’t just improve a team but he improves individuals as well. Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling, any other side would have had them. But Pep hasn’t just accepted them as being good players; he improves them.”
Read the full 888sport interview with Paul Parker, including his prediction for the Manchester Derby this weekend.