29th December 2017.
JosÃ© Mourinho has been put under pressure in the past month after Manchester United's title hopes slipped through the cracks after a string of disappointing performances.
Manchester United may have improved drastically since last season, given they finished sixth and were poor overall, but it is being overlooked by the brilliance of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.
No one can deny the excellence of the Citizens, who remain unbeaten in the Premier League. The Spanish manager has completed an overhaul of his squad and acted astutely in the transfer market to bring in the players he feels compliments the team.
Mourinho has not had the luxury of signing each and every one of his transfer targets, as both Antoine Griezmann and Ivan PeriÂši?, two key players for the Portuguese boss, escaped his grasp.
Before the start of the season, it was clear to see why Mourinho wanted those players: Manchester United do not have orthodox wingers in their ranks and possess very few specialists who can execute a successful cross.
Because of this, the Red Devils now predominantly play through the middle and cut inside when in wide areas. This, therefore, makes it incredibly easy for opponents to read and analyse their game and act upon it diligently. There is not a lot of variance in their attacking play.
Contrasting that to Manchester City, who have more attackers than they know what to do with, Guardiola is in a very fortunate position where there is an immense variety to City's game. Obviously, this is what he set out to achieve, and he has done that by using the transfer market efficiently, but also the high level of coaching.
What Guardiola has done exceptionally well is to create a collective atmosphere around the club - it is not about one individual, but about the team's success. Sir Alex Ferguson also managed to carry that out sensationally well with the philosophy that no one player is bigger than the team.
With Gabriel Jesus making an almighty impression, it has enabled Guardiola to rotate between the Brazilian and Sergio AgÃ¼ero. That freshness in the squad is what helps keep the team ticking over without any real signs of fatigue.
However, Manchester United have used Romelu Lukaku for every single minute of this Premier League season. The Belgian has not had any sort of rest. Zlatan Ibrahimovi? might have returned, but the so called 'lion' has looked lacklustre so far.
Not only do City possess a ruthlessness in the transfer market, they also possess it on the field, and it shows drastically compared to Manchester United.
If you take a look at City's performance against Bournemouth, they had 14 shots and five on target. Of those five shots on target, they scored four of them. That is an 80% conversion rate - an extortionately high percentage that is fairly rare in the Premier League.
In Man United's 2-2 result against Burnley, they recorded 24 shots altogether, with only six finding the target. A dreadfully poor return which states how wasteful they are in front of goal.
It was not for a lack of chances created, either, which let the Red Devils down. Plenty of times they had goal scoring opportunities but squandered them and rued the decision they made in front of goal.
Throughout the season, City have shown time and time again that they do not sit back on their laurels when they go ahead in a game. They then exert even more effort to make sure the game is out of reach and that is when you see two, three, four or more goals nestle in the back of the net.
Manchester United took a similar path at the beginning of the season, but due to Paul Pogba's injury that kept him out for two months, the momentum has deserted them and they have picked up some poor results which, in turn, knocked their confidence.
The Premier League is basically sewn up and is unlikely to be contested now. Manchester United have created an abundance of chances this season, but their dwindling form is down to the lack of ruthlessness they possess in front of goal.
This article was written by Liam Canning for Soccer Box, an online store where you can shop for official Premier League football shirts, including Man Utd and Man City.
Manchester United lack ruthlessness compared with Manchester City
29th December 2017.