Football

Nigel Winterburn: Jose Mourinho still figuring out Alexis Sanchez’s role at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho still has not figured out how best to use Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United, believes former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn.

The Chile forward has scored once and added two assists in six starts for United since arriving in January as part of a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the opposite direction.

United have not scored in three of those games, losing at Tottenham and Newcastle before drawing 0-0 against Sevilla on Thursday, with Mourinho deploying Sanchez primarily on the left of United’s attack.

Anthony Martial had previously staked his claim for that role but he has not scored since netting the winner in a 1-0 victory away at Burnley in the game prior to Sanchez’s arrival, as he has struggled to adapt to playing on the right.

Winterburn believes Sanchez would be best utilised at United in a central attacking role where he can offer more support to Romelu Lukaku.

“He will make his mark eventually at Manchester United that is for sure,” Winterburn told Premier League Daily.

“I actually believe personally that this season Sanchez has not been at the same high level that he was at last season. He has just had a slight [dip] in form.

“He has now moved to a new club. How will Manchester United use Sanchez best within the dynamics of their set-up?

“I just wonder eventually whether Sanchez will come in and play off the central striker in Lukaku. I could see that working very, very well for them.

“Then you can use Martial or Rashford down one of your wings as well. I think that might start to excite some of the Manchester United supporters. It is a way of getting another creative player into your team.

“He is going to be a huge success but it is going to take him a little bit of time to settle in to the different styles of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.”

United face Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday, with Lukaku looking to get on the scoresheet against a team in the top eight for the first time this season. So far, the Belgian has failed to score in ten games against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Burnley and Leicester.

In six games against teams in the top six this season, Lukaku has failed to register a shot on target. In 20 games against teams outside the top six, the Belgian has had 33 shots on target.

But Winterburn believes Mourinho’s conservative tactics against better teams are partly to blame and says Lukaku needs more support from his team-mates.

“I would love to know how many chances Manchester United are creating against the bottom half of the Premier League and how many chances Lukaku gets,” Winterburn said.

“And again against the top half of the league, again the same thing – how many chances are United creating and how many is Lukaku getting?

“Because we know Jose Mourinho sets up slightly differently against the top teams and you are going to have less chances to score anyway.

“Rather than looking at Lukaku and wondering what he is not doing, you have to look at whether it is the team set-up around him. Is he becoming detached in the position that he is playing?

“But if you don’t score against the big teams you are always going to get that question mark around you.”

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