(Reuters) – Manchester United were painted by two distinguished old boys on Saturday as a club at war who could be staring at one of their worst-ever seasons on the field after their 3-1 capitulation at West Ham United.
The tame defeat condemned United to their worst start in any top-flight season for 29 years, prompting both Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes to deliver scathing assessments to BT Sport after watching the match at the London Stadium.
As the inquests were ramped up after another sub-par display that leaves United’s Premier League title hopes already wanting, former midfielder Scholes said: “At this minute, I think this club seems to be in a bit of a mess.
“It just seems a war right throughout the club. If it’s from Ed Woodward (the chief executive) to Mourinho and then Mourinho to his players, the place just looks unstable.
“It feels like there something’s massively wrong. Is it the end for some players or the manager? Who’s going to get more out of this team? We don’t know. It just feels wrong.”
Former England and United captain Ferdinand added that it was difficult to say whether the club were approaching the “end game”, in terms of either Mourinho’s tenure or the future of under-performing players, but said the club’s hierarchy now had to make hard decisions.
“You can’t let a situation like this continue,” said Ferdinand. “Things leaking out in the press, little wars going on in the changing room, players maybe on one side of the dressing room, Mourinho and his staff on the other.
“It can’t be like that. If this continues, it will be one of the worst seasons in the history of the club.”
Mourinho fielded a new-look three-man defence, featuring a raw midfielder, Scott McTominay, as a centre back, which was shredded within five minutes by Felipe Anderson’s goal.
United, who went two down before halftime with a Victor Lindelof own goal, offered a little resistance with a second-half goal from Marcus Rashford only for their central defence to be sliced open once more almost immediately as Marko Arnautovic struck the Hammers’ third.
Paul Pogba, stripped of the vice-captaincy by Mourinho during a week in which they were also knocked out of the League Cup by second-tier Derby County, had another mediocre outing and was substituted after 70 minutes.
LACK OF QUALITY
It left Mourinho this time questioning his players’ quality, with Ferdinand agreeing.
“There is definitely a lack of quality. The players brought in — I’d question if they’re good enough. But on top of that, you have to get the players playing. The bare minimum is graft,”
Yet Scholes wondered if Mourinho could afford to alienate Pogba further. “The war he’s got now with Pogba, Pogba’s still his best player. Can he let Pogba go? I don’t know if he can,” said the midfielder.
Ferdinand said action was needed quickly. “Any football club needs stability from top to bottom. Here there appears to be mini-wars going on in the changing room, even above that.
“That has to be ironed out; there has to be someone in that club who says, ‘Right, get yourself together, let’s sort this out’. They’ll have to. Back in the day, Alex Ferguson would have sorted this out … Something’s got to give here.”
(Reporting by Ian Chadband,; Editing by Neville Dalton)