Here's what Jose can do
things United boss must do to get the better of Hammers
|MAN UTD||WEST HAM|
The League Cup has become the trophy that no one really wants except Jose Mourinho.
Right now, a distant date at Wembley seems appealing for the beleaguered manager.
But then, a distant date with a dentist and a rusty drill might be more attractive than Mourinho's current predicament.
He faces another touchline ban. He can't keep his temper, his tongue or his talent pool happy.
So the quarter-final against West Ham United tomorrow morning (Singapore) becomes vital.
Here's what Mourinho must do to ensure a morale-boosting victory at the Theatre of Dreams.
1 Shaw up the defence
Mourinho's exasperating and often inexplicable campaign is neatly encapsulated by his treatment of Luke Shaw.
Before injury intervened, the 21-year-old (below) was considered to be one of the most promising players in English football.
Fast, comfortable in possession and eager to gallop forward, Shaw embodied the qualities of the modern left back. He worked tirelessly in rehabilitation only to return to a new manager who publicly questioned his attitude.
Mourinho's cruel jibes were as unnecessary as they were mean-spirited. Shaw didn't even make the squad against West Ham in the league game last weekend.
Christmas came early for Michail Antonio. His gift was wrapped in the shape of Matteo Darmian.
The Italian dazzled at the 2014 World Cup. He disappeared at Old Trafford.
Shaw must be involved in the League Cup or Mourinho's judgment - not to mention his vindictive streak - will again be called into question.
2 Bring back old man Carrick
Age cannot whither the 35-year-old master craftsman.
A groin strain ruled out Michael Carrick last weekend, but he's back in training and would provide that comforting security blanket against West Ham.
For two years after he stepped down, Sir Alex Ferguson was still telling anyone who'd listen to stop obsessing over Carrick's (right) birth certificate and just admire his end product.
The veteran had no pace to lose in the first place and his peerless distribution was sorely missed last Sunday.
Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba are both suspended, which allows Carrick another chance to polish those exquisite skills he refined at the Hammers academy.
He's a West Ham old boy. He's a United old man.
But he's still the best man for that job.
3 Settle the back four
Here's a fun fact. Middlesbrough are in a relegation scrap, just a point away from the bottom three. Yet the EPL strugglers have conceded the same number of goals as United (15).
The Red Devils' defensive record is the worst in the top six, largely because of the revolving door plonked in the penalty box.
Mourinho can't settle on his back four. Against West Ham, the selections of Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia were as confused as their performance.
Diafra Sakho, West Ham's only conventional forward, managed to elude both centre backs to head in a set-piece.
Both Shaw and Daley Blind offer the prospect of greater stability, but Mourinho's reluctance to pick either hints at his shaky man-management.
At other clubs, his selections, no matter how surprising, were always tactical.
At United, they smack of pettiness and an unsettled back four are leaking goals as a result.
4 Give Rashford a rest
Marcus Rashford is a prodigious specimen, as if designed in a laboratory churning out swift, intimidating No. 9s. But he's also young.
Mourinho treats promising teenagers like water bottles on the touchline.
He kicks them around for a bit before booting them elsewhere.
Watching Rashford (below), a 19-year-old striker, drifting with the tumbleweed on the left flank was painful last weekend.
A starved soul living off scraps, he looked off the pace, his confidence shattered.
Mourinho would never entertain the prospect of dropping his Swedish surrogate son aka Zlatan Ibrahimovic upfront - the manager has always fashioned a side around an experienced, physical target man - so Rashford is the odd man out, in every sense.
To keep his fragile dignity intact, he deserves a night off.
And Henrikh Mkhitaryan needs another chance to shake of that price tag.
5 Make it about the team, not Jose
The cult of personality can only be built around a successful individual.
If he isn't winning, he's just whining.
The only difference between eccentric and irritating is victory.
Senior figures at United are reportedly getting tired of the touchline tantrums and the press conference petulance.
A third Football Association charge and another ban, in all likelihood, hardly builds a case for a manager with only one victory in his last seven EPL matches.
Beating the Hammers should make for a temporary Band-Aid, but it won't stick if Mourinho fails to rein in the histrionics.
He's struggling to deal with a tarnished brand. He's no longer the Special One.
But he is still in charge of a special club.
He must act accordingly or the atmosphere around Old Trafford will slowly turn toxic.
Jose charged by FA
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is in hot water with the Football Association once again after being hit with an improper conduct charge following his sending-off against West Ham.
Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Jon Moss during last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford for angrily kicking a bottle of water on the touchline in response to Paul Pogba's booking for diving.
It was his second dismissal of the season. He has already served one touchline ban, having disputed a decision during United's 0-0 home draw with Burnley last month.
That followed disciplinary action taken against him for comments made about referee Anthony Taylor before their Premier League fixture at Liverpool, which also finished 0-0.
The Portuguese has been given until 6pm tomorrow to respond to this latest charge.
"Jose Mourinho has been charged following Manchester United's game against West Ham United on Sunday (Nov 27, 2016)," read the full statement from the FA.
"It is alleged his behaviour in or around the 27th minute of the game amounts to improper conduct.
"He has until 6pm on Dec 1, 2016 to respond to the charge."
Mourinho chose not to comment after the game in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic cancelled out Diafra Sakho's second-minute finish shortly before the sending-off.
His assistant Rui Faria said: ''Everyone saw his frustration was shown in a situation where it should have been a free-kick for us, but it finished with a yellow card to Paul.
"There are maybe reasons to express some frustration."
The draw left sixth-placed United 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea, who sacked Mourinho last December after a poor start to the season.
United's return of 20 points from their opening 13 fixtures is their worst start to a season since 1989-90. - PA Sport.