Mourinho and co eye festive fun for Man Utd as crucial Christmas period approaches

Manchester United have endured an underwhelming start to the campaign under new manager Jose Mourinho, leaving them well off the early pace setters in the race of the Premier League title.

The Red Devils have struggled to maintain the level of excellence enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson since the Scot’s departure in 2013, as David Moyes and Louis van Gaal both failed to deliver success.

The Portuguese is in danger of beginning his era at the club in the same way as his two predecessors unless his team can turn the corner soon and mount a surge to compete with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City at the top of the division.

United have a decent run of fixtures over the next month, which could help them build from their 3-1 win over Swansea City that ended a four-game stretch without a victory.

The Red Devils face several sides in bottom half of the table over the next weeks, including West Ham United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all at Old Trafford.

The festive period will provide ample opportunity for Mourinho’s men to quickly make up six points on their rivals at the top.

Hopeful fans have been buying tickets online at TicketGum to see the squad play against the Black Cats and Boro, especially so because of this potential. 

One of the keys to their challenge will be the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who ended a six-game run without a goal in the club’s triumph over Swansea, notching a brace at the Liberty Stadium.

The Swede was instrumental in Paris-Saint Germain’s dominance of Ligue One during his four-year stay and should the Red Devils ensure that he gets service, he is bound to find the net one way or another.

Even at the age of 34, Ibrahimovic remains a predator in the box and his goal threat is more important than ever due to Wayne Rooney’s decline.

The United skipper is not the out-and-out striker he was in his prime and is even struggling in his midfield role, although his strike against Fenerbahce proves that he can still produce quality moments.

Marcus Rashford had a bright start to the season, netting four goals in his first seven games.

However, since scoring in a 4-1 win over Leicester, the 19-year-old has failed to fire in front of goal, but his struggles could be down to how he has been deployed by Mourinho on the left side of a three-man attack.

The Portuguese has been criticised in the past for failing to develop young players. We’ll be watching closely to see whether he manages to get displays out of an underperforming talent.

Elsewhere in the United squad, Mourinho has issues with the fitness of his defenders, as Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw pulled out of the clash with Swansea, drawing the ire of the Portuguese.

The 53-year-old has never been shy about calling his players out in the past, but to do so early in his reign risks alienating him from his squad.

He found out to his cost that that strategy tore his Chelsea team apart last season, and ahead of such a crucial run of fixtures he cannot afford not to have any players not fully behind him.

The next six weeks are a vital time for United in their bid to get back on the path of greatness and anything unexpected or below-par in their performances could end their challenge before the new year.

Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.

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