Mourinho

Critical times for Mourinho at Old Trafford

In a move that indicates the severe curtailing of Jose Mourinho's power at the Old Trafford, Manchester United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, sidelined the Portuguese manager in offering Anthony Martial a five-year deal with the club.

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Mourinho made it clear that he didn't want the 22-year old French forward by keeping him on the benches for most of last season and playing him briefly in the Brighton match a fortnight ago. Martial seems to have made a volte face from his earlier stance of wanting to leave United and seriously considering the proposal. He is certain that he can outstay Mourinho at United given that the latter's tenure at the club is on tenterhooks at the moment. England pair Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard also are vying to start in attack with Romelu Lukaku, something that has not happened under Mourinho. The 20-year old Rashford has been repeatedly introduced only in the latter half of games and has rarely started off.

Dressing room chatter at the Old Trafford suggests a minor mutiny of sorts among the players with murmurs of the possibility of Zinedine Zidane coming in to replace the beleaguered Mourinho.

Rumours are afloat of the French legend wanting to take over reins at Old Trafford should Mourinho be sacked. While Zidane may lack experience as a manager, he would be unlikely to buckle under the pressure at United considering his phenomenal feats in the fierce environment at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid.

As for Mourinho, there's a general feeling that the Portuguese's future could hinge on Manchester United's Sunday game against Burnley. Even in the midst of this dismal phase, what could work for the Red Devils is Burnley's equally poor form. The Clarets have just one point from their three Premier League games so far in the 2018-19 season, having lost their last two games, including one at home at Turf Moor to Watford.

Burnley coach Sean Dyche has yet to register a victory against United from his half a dozen encounters with his Sunday rivals since 2014.

Odds point to a last gasp resuscitation for Mourinho at the Turf Moor on Sunday. A win for the Red Devils there could save the 55-year old manager's job and buy more time for him. The Red Devils in one of their worst-ever starts to a season have just a solitary win and two humiliating defeats to Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur to show from their three games so far.

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