JOSE MOURINHO can point to plenty of reasons why Manchester United have fallen from their lofty perch as England’s No1 team.
Manchester City allegedly bending FFP rules is one.
AFP5 Jose Mourinho has admitted his side have no excuses when they face Fulham this weekend
Other teams are spending more, United can no longer cherry pick the best players, failure to get a centre-back in the summer, injuries to key players, the fact that beyond Romelu Lukaku they do not have a natural finisher in the squad.
Boss Mourinho even said £52million summer buy Fred cannot play in his team until the defence gets stronger.
The list goes on and on. However, even Mourinho said there can be NO EXCUSES if they fail to beat bottom side Fulham at Old Trafford today.
Particularly not after his side’s spirited midweek performance in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Reuters5 The Man Utd boss has surprisingly said that summer signing Fred is not ready to play in the team
Reuters5 Jose Mourinho has been left frustrated at Man United's dealings in the transfer market
Mourinho said: “I know to play again after only a few days is not easy but Fulham are in the same situation as us.
"Probably the way they are coming to play — or try to play — will not demand as much from them as us. But no excuses.”
Mourinho was still reaching for them yesterday, though. And some do help explain United’s lowly eighth place in the Premier League.
Yes, other teams are stronger and are able to spend big.
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Mourinho added: “If the ones above us keep going in the same direction, and if their ambition and investment is continuous, that’s one thing.
“Another thing is if they stop, or if the Financial Fair Play makes them stop — and then we can close the gap a little bit better.”
The problem is, it is not just free-spending sides like Manchester City and Liverpool who are ahead of United.
Even Bournemouth and Everton are — plus United have the highest wage bill in the Prem.
The Old Trafford side have taken three points from their last four games. Two of those points came against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace and Southampton.
Mourinho was happy with the energy a frontline of Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial gave him against the Gunners.
AFP5 The emergence of Diogo Dalot is a rare positive for Man United in what has been a tricky start
Yet their goals return is still not enough — and he believes none of that trio are natural finishers.
He said: “We need to score more. I think one thing is dynamics and happiness, routines adapted to the qualities of the players.
“But in the end, the most important thing is putting the ball in the net — goals, points and victories.
“They work hard but it’s not about work. It’s about natural qualities.”
And it is fair to say the trio miss their fair share of chances.
Mourinho also claimed other teams improved in the summer, while United stood still. True, the signing of Diogo Dalot was as a long-term successor to Antonio Valencia.
But why has Brazilian Fred not improved the midfield?
Mourinho now claims he cannot be trusted to play in a defensive role.