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10 key problems facing Manchester United

By The Rainbow

Why can't United win games after spending all that money?

Manchester United fail to win. Jose Mourinho is sent to the stands. Referees everywhere duck for cover. It is becoming a familiar feeling around the Portuguese manager and his football club.

The draw against West Ham United at Old Trafford left United closer on points to the relegation zone than the top of the Premier League. Nine points separates them from Hull City in 18th, they are 11 behind leaders Chelsea and on current form sliding down the table appears far more likely than climbing up it.

After a fourth home league draw in succession culminating in their worst start since the 1990-1991 season, when they were in the old Division One, Sportsmail looks at the 10 key questions the club and their beleaguered manager face.

Wayne Rooney sums up Manchester United’s struggles in the draw with West Ham

United’s players, including world-record signing Paul Pogba, are well of the title pace

Mourinho is right, to a certain extent, that they have been unlucky this season.

They have come up against goalkeepers in exceptional form on a few occasions and that was the case again with Darren Randolph against West Ham, who was man of the match in that draw.

But, ultimately, the top teams who will go on to challenge for the Premier League title turn those kinds of matches from one point into three.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal all did so last weekend.

Why is Mourinho so unhappy – and is his mood having a negative effect?

The Portuguese does it partly for effect and partly because he can't stand it when things do not go his way. When his teams are winning games and trophies and he is creating a siege 'them-against-us' mentality he looks like a genius.

When they are struggling, he looks like a maniac.
It seemed harsh to send him to the stands for kicking a bottle on Sunday but that appears to be the directive for referees this season. The Manchester United players, however, do look like they are largely putting the work in for him.

Jose Mourinho has looked unhappy this season and it’s having an impact on his team

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his goal against West Ham but it wasn’t enough for victory

Is Paul Pogba settling in as he should?
Any player, no matter how much they cost, has some kind of settling-in period.

November 30: West Ham (H – EFL Cup)
December 4: Everton (A)
December 8: Zorya Luhansk (H – Europa League)

December 11: Tottenham (H)
December 14: Crystal Palace (A)
Even if they hit a rich vein of form upon arrival at a club, which is rare, there will always be that lull when that extra bit of luck runs out and they have to take stock of their new surroundings, new team-mates and new way of doing things and adapt their play.

It was a wonderful diagonal pass from the left to set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for United's equaliser against West Ham and there have been flashes from the midfielder to suggest he was bought for his ability and not to increase the club's Twitter followers.

Pogba has taken some time to settle back at Old Trafford after returning from Juventus

Pogba is booked for diving by referee Jon Moss in the 1-1 stalemate with West Ham

Has Mourinho got his approach wrong?
Mourinho has always been publicly confrontational with his players. That is just his way. Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling have felt the brunt of that already.

Others will in the course of time. Just as some who fall out of favour will return to the fold, as Bastian Schweinsteiger has done.

Ander Herrera was also not getting much of a chance at the start of the season but has recently been United’s most influential midfielder.

Mourinho won the Premier League 18 months ago, his style is not going to drastically lose its effect in such a short space of time.

Is Mourinho right to keep questioning referees?
He must know that by repeatedly calling into question their competence then referees, however subconsciously this happens, will take stronger action against him. It used to be part of his tactic of turning the attention away from a poor performance and on to himself or another aspect of the game to protect his players. Now it is starting to become less obvious what the benefit is.

Mourinho’s anger with referees has seen him sent off twice already this season

Luke Shaw has already felt the full force of Mourinho’s ire in the campaign to date

Where does Wayne Rooney fit in to United's plan?
Impact sub, as it stands. He has started on the bench in four of their last five league games, against Liverpool, Burnley, Arsenal and West Ham.

Rooney can complain all he likes about newspapers already writing his obituary, but the vital statistics are that he has only scored three goals in 22 games for club and country this season and two of those came in the Europa League against Turkish and Dutch opposition. Rooney is 30 years old but has not kept in the best shape he could've done over the years and it is finally catching up with him.

Which players in particular need to up their game?
Anthony Martial, Shaw, Memphis Depay. There has been a lot of money spent on that trio and Mourinho is not seeing an adequate return on the investment.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who unlike those three was actually signed by Mourinho, has had a difficult start to his time at Old Trafford.

Club captain Rooney has started on the bench in four of United’s last five league games

Henrikh Mkhitaryan reacts to a goal being ruled out for offside against West Ham

And who are the saving graces?
Herrera, as mentioned above, was out of favour at the start of the season but has changed Mourinho's opinion of him.

Eric Bailly was performing excellently at centre back before he got injured. Juan Mata, who many thought would be cast out by Mourinho like at Chelsea, captained the side against West Ham and has been a regular feature.

What would missing out on the Champions League again mean?

It would be another fissure in one of the world's greatest clubs. The Manchester United brand may be as strong as ever but that was built on the foundations of winning titles and trophies and scoring goals and over time the name of the club will be weakened if this continues.

And finally… where are United on course to finish?
This is their worst start to the season in 26 years and, 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea, their title hopes are already over before we've reached December.

Even Champions League qualification looks unlikely for a second successive season with Arsenal, in fourth, eight points clear. The Europa League beckons once again unless others above them let their grip on the top four slip.

  • Team P GD Pts
    1 Chelsea 13 19 31
    2 Liverpool 13 18 30
    3 Manchester City 13 17 30
    4 Arsenal 13 15 28
    5 Tottenham Hotspur 13 9 24
    6 Manchester United 13 3 20
    7 Everton 13 1 19
    8 Watford 13 -4 18
    9 West Bromwich Albion 13 1 17
    10 Southampton 13 1 17
    11 Stoke City 13 -5 16
    12 Bournemouth 13 -4 15
    13 Burnley 13 -9 14
    14 Leicester City 13 -6 13
    15 Middlesbrough 13 -3 12
    16 West Ham United 13 -10 12
    17 Crystal Palace 13 -5 11
    18 Hull City 13 -17 11
    19 Swansea City 13 -10 9
    20 Sunderland 13 -11 8