Confidence is the overriding issue at Manchester United at the moment. Jose Mourinho’s squad look like they’re struggling mentally. Morale is low. That’s what losing two of three opening matches will do for you.
Perhaps the epitome of the poor form to this point is Victor Lindelof. The Swede, known as The Ice Man, has made mistakes aplenty – most of which have proven costly as United are already six points off the Premier Leauge pace.
This poor form comes just a month after Lindelof enjoyed a stellar World Cup for his country. To me, that hints at a problem within United rather than the player himself. That’s a sentiment echoed by Sven-Goran Eriksson, who has leapt to the defence of his countryman; stating that Mr. Mourinho should do likewise.
“I have to say he did two great mistakes last match I thought. And he was lucky he got away with it, both of them.” The ex-England man told Sky Sports, per Squawka.
“But you don’t expect that from him. But, anyhow, we’re talking about a very good football player.
“For Sweden, he’s been fantastic and Sweden got to the quarter-final [of the World Cup]. He was important in the qualification so he is a great player, no doubts about that.
“And, of course, when you are criticised as a player, as a coach, life is difficult. You have to come back. But, if you don’t have the manager, the coach defending you, life is even more difficult, much more difficult.
“So, I think – me, and now I am talking about me – in all the teams I had, if it’s a club or you, you had to defend your players.”
Obviously, criticism from your manager is tough to take, particularly when under Mourinho it obviously happens so publicly. It is Mourinho’s job to inspire, instil belief and confidence. It feels as though, at times, our gaffer does the exact opposite. That’s a problem.
Lindelof has talent. Ask SL Benfica supporters and Sweden fans. They’ll know he can play. Defensively, he was a colossus during the World Cup. You don’t just lose that talent overnight. It’s so obviously a mental thing.
The question is, will Lindelof turn things around over a manager who obviously doesn’t believe in him? That’s what happens when you make public knowledge your intention to sign a new centre-half over the summer. When a deal doesn’t get pushed over the line, it can easily back-fire, exactly like it has in this case.