One week, three games, three defeats. This is not what the Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United was meant to look like.
United were out-classed at home by Manchester City and never got going at Feyenoord. But this at Vicarage Road was there worst of all. They were out-run and out-fought all over the pitch, beaten 3-1 by two late goals, a reward for their hosts who found an extra level at the end.
Mourinho’s tenure is just over one month old and any team with a new manager and new players can expect to improve. But this, United’s seventh game of the season, was their worst result and performance. Runs this bad are quite familiar in United’s recent history. They lost four in a row under Louis van Gaal last December. But Mourinho was brought in to improve standards and get results. And this week his team has looked as far away as ever. This is the first team he has lost three straight games in a season since he was at Porto.
No-one expects Mourinho teams to play exciting expansive football. But this Watford win owed to their doing the basics better than United: an early aerial assault, defensive organisation, plenty of running and clever counter-attacks. Walter Mazzarri and Mourinho never got on when they were in Italy, and Mazzarri said it was because of how similar they were. Here, Mazzarri beat his old foe with recognisable Mourinho football. But Mazzarri was only appointed by Watford this summer too. What is Mourinho’s excuse?