Jose Mourinho’s defensive mindset is to blame for Manchester United falling “flat” and Alexis Sanchez looking “a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal”, says Michael Owen.
The Red Devils are closing in on a runner-up finish in the Premier League and are through to the FA Cup final, but their brand of football this season has won few admirers.
That has been the case since Mourinho inherited the reins, with the Portuguese famed for his focus on containment and winning by any means necessary.
Owen believes those philosophies are holding the club back, particularly their attacking talents, with the quality within the Old Trafford ranks suggesting that they should be faring even better than they are.
The former United striker told Joe: “I’m always hesitant to say United need this or they need that.
“They’ve brought in great attacking players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez and still looked flat.
“It’s not so much about personnel for United. Personally, when I look at that current United squad they should be doing better than they are. They are still not the United I expect to see.
“Jose is a defensive type of manager. He can make defenders look better and attackers look worse. If I was an attacker, I’d like to play in any other side in the top six than United.
“They brought in Sanchez, who was one of the best players in the league over the last few seasons, and he is just a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal. That is just because of Mourinho’s style of play. Everyone has to be working back and making tackles; filling space.
“That United squad, when I look at it, has the potential to be the best in the league and be much better than they actually are.”
Sanchez has managed just three goals in 15 appearances for United following a January arrival from Arsenal.
Mkhitaryan was moved in the opposite direction as that deal was pushed through, with a proven playmaker deemed surplus to requirements after slipping down the pecking order.
The likes of Martial and Marcus Rashford have also been frustrated in their respective pursuits of regular minutes this season, while Pogba has faced criticism after being denied the freedom to express himself.