If Manchester United had lost to Newcastle on Saturday evening, Jose Mourinho would probably be unemployed right now.
The Portuguese coach was expected to be sacked regardless of the result against Rafael Benitez’s side, but the team’s dramatic 3-2 victory has changed things for the time being.
United produced one of the worst 45-minute spells of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era during the first half and deservedly went into the break 2-0 down. However, goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez completed a stunning turnaround and earned the Red Devils all three points.
Mourinho is subsequently expected to be in charge of United’s visit to Chelsea after the international break.
United’s board reportedly hope that he can last until the end of the season, with few realistic alternatives available at this moment in time.
Some people believe it’s a turning point in United’s season and Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford.
However, former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer doesn’t believe that’s true. On the evidence of United’s performance at the weekend, the Match of the Day pundit reckons Mourinho will still fail to turn the situation around.
“Manchester United should not get carried away,” he wrote in his latest column for The Sun. “I don’t see how one good 45 minutes can get rid of all the huge issues that are quite clearly there.
“Their problems are too deep-rooted for one half to have sorted them out.
“Yes, the way they came back to beat Newcastle from 2-0 down will give them confidence.
“And, yes, it is brilliant for them to go into an international break sitting on that result for the next two weeks.
“But really, all they have done is beat a team which has not won all season and is in the bottom three.
“So I still don’t see Jose Mourinho being able to just turn it around.”
Shearer believes United will still lose games over the coming weeks due to Mourinho chopping, changing and criticising his defenders.
“Not while he still has the same defenders to choose from — the defenders he keeps criticising and chopping and changing,” the ex-England international continued.
“We should not forget these are the same defenders who had the second best defensive record in the Premier League last season, conceding just one more goal than Manchester City.
“Yet they are completely different players this season because they are constantly hearing their manager telling them they are not good enough.
“He has killed their confidence — and Saturday was just another example of that.
“Mourinho took Eric Bailly off after just 19 minutes and moved a midfielder, Scott McTominay, back to centre-half.
“At the same time, he left another centre-half Victor Lindelof, who he bought for £31million, on the bench.
“Then at half-time, he takes off McTominay, who I felt sorry for, to bring on another midfielder.
“And he moves two more midfielders, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, into deeper positions. What sort of message is that sending to Bailly and Lindelof?”
It’s certainly a fair point. If United conceded twice at home to Newcastle, imagine what will happen when they take on Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City over the coming weeks.
Oh, and there’s also the small matter of facing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus – twice – in the Champions League within the next month.
Shearer is simply telling it how it is: a 3-2 win over Newcastle has merely papered over the cracks.
“To their credit, United rallied to come back and win. But the fact they were 2-0 down in the first place says it all,” he added.
“Just because they had a good second half does not mean their problems are solved.”