Following the farce that was Manchester United's 0-3 loss at home to Tottenham Hotspur, much of the talk was surrounding Jose Mourinho's future at the club. Should the board back or sack the Portuguese? Has he been hung out to dry by the likes of Ed Woodward or has he alienated his squad? The answer isn't black or white, and it's the grey area that should scare United fans more than anything.
It's absolutely true to say that Mourinho is guilty of turning members of his squad against him. His treatment of Luke Shaw has bordered on bullying, and Anthony Martial was treated just as unfairly during pre-season, the treatment led many to believe the Frenchman would be leaving Old Trafford this summer. Even superstar Paul Pogba has been mistreated. But that's the way Mourinho operates, some players react to it well, and others don't enjoy playing for him.
The real problem is that after three years, a combination of Mourinho and United's board have failed to put together a squad of players that make sense playing together.
Take Alexis Sanchez as an example. After a supposedly intense battle for the Chilean's signature with rivals Manchester City, United captured the winger. On face value, it was a great signing, Sanchez was one of the Premier League's most feared forwards and it was a moral victory over their noisy neighbours.
Look deeper though, and you'll see that a moral victory was all that the signing of Sanchez was. The Chilean turns 30 in December, and is on almost £400,000 a week. He flits in and out of games, showing occasional glimpses of what United fans thought he'd be, but for the main part he's been a disappointment. Consider that the Red Devils have Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial waiting in the wings for their chance to shine and the Sanchez signing makes even less sense.
Alexis Sanchez's weekly wage: £450k/week— Don Kopleone (@donkopleone) March 17, 2018
Mesut Özil's weekly wage: £350k/week
Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane's weekly wages combined: £310k/week
But Sanchez isn't the only problem with the squad, he's just the embodiment of it. Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ander Herrera - these aren't Jose Mourinho players, and the fact that they still feature regularly shows that United as a club have only half committed to the Jose Mourinho experience.
When you hire Mourinho, you aren't looking at a potential dynasty, you're looking for an quick - but expensive - fix to the on pitch problems at your club. United as a club have failed to commit to the what Mourinho brings as a manager. They want instant success, but they want to play the United way. They want to spend big in the transfer market, but they also want to bring through youth players. The club is a walking contradiction between what they say they want, versus what they actually do.
It's time for the biggest club on the planet to decide which direction they want to go in. Sack Mourinho and play the 'United Way' (this is probably the most vague description ever, for what it's worth and is just blurted out by every United fan who wants to play attractive football) or back Mourinho, accept the associated cost and understand that it's a short fix. The risk of staying in the middle ground they find themselves in at this moment is they could fall even further behind City and Liverpool.