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Abject United must move on from disaster

The FC crew discuss Manchester United's shock Champions League exit.
The FC crew discuss Manchester United's shock Champions League exit.
The FC crew discuss Manchester United's shock Champions League exit.
The FC crew discuss Manchester United's shock Champions League exit.

Right at the end of Jose Mourinho's news conference following Manchester United's desperate Champions League exit to Sevilla, he was asked what needed to change to avoid another night like this.

"Everything," replied the Portuguese coach. "Everything needs to change."

It may be that he said it in the heat of the moment after what was his worst result as United manager. But, then, he is not the type to say things he does not mean.

If, indeed, he does feel that "everything" has to change to lift the club back into the group of Europe's top teams, then it is a startling admission.

We are 15 months and 109 games into Mourinho's reign at Old Trafford, during which time he has spent £286 million on eight new players. A lot has changed already.

He can, of course, argue progress. He inherited a squad that finished fifth in the Premier League and won the League Cup and the Europa League in his first season. Finishing sixth in the league was a disappointment -- although it was down, in part, to the focus on the Europa League -- but they look likely to finish second this season, their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired five years ago.

Even in the Champions League there has been a step forward. Louis van Gaal's United could not get out of a group consisting of Wolfsburg, PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow. Mourinho's team breezed through theirs, although elimination at the hands of Sevilla is bordering on a disaster.

Defeat over two legs to Real Madrid, Barcelona or even Manchester City could have been forgiven, but it is difficult to explain two meek performances against Spain's fifth-best team. Mourinho struck a dismissive tone after the final whistle insisting Champions League disappointment was "not something new for this club" after he knocked United out of the competition at Old Trafford with Porto in 2004 and Real Madrid in 2013.

He added that it was "not the end of the world". In some ways he is right, and with just three days to prepare for their FA Cup quarterfinal with Brighton there is little time to dwell on it. Still, it is unlikely the 76,000 fans who came to Old Trafford on Tuesday night will be able to brush off the defeat so easily.

Manchester United were desperate in their second-leg defeat to Sevilla.

The performances both in Spain and Manchester were far more forgettable. United managed four shots on target in 180 minutes against a team who have conceded 42 league goals this season and shipped 12 in six Champions League group games.

For that, Mourinho must take responsibility. He has proved himself to be a fantastic manager -- you need only look at his CV to see that. But the football this United team play -- controlled and cautious -- is hard to justify when it does not get results. It worked against Liverpool, but not against Sevilla.

On Tuesday night, Mourinho's team knew they needed to win the game to go through. But they did not start creating chances until 15 minutes from the end, by which time they were already 2-0 down. It was too little, too late.

The way Sevilla panicked under the pressure raised the suspicion that they should have probably had a go a bit sooner. It is a mystery why they didn't.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho now has to find a way to respond after the worst result of his reign as boss.

The issue for Mourinho now is how he bridges the gaps -- with Manchester City in the Premier League and the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League. After all, he was brought to Old Trafford because he is as close as it gets to guaranteed success. It is United and it is Mourinho so the aim has always been to win the Premier League and the Champions League. Ultimately, anything else is a consolation.

Despite Mourinho's claim, there is not that much scope for drastic change. It is likely he will make two or three signings in the summer, including a central midfielder, but there will not be wholesale alterations.

Mourinho insists he will not sign another attacking player which means he must find a way of getting Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku into the same team and in their best positions. There is little point throwing in more ingredients if the recipe is wrong. A group of very good players does not necessarily make a great team and Pogba, in particular, appears to be struggling to balance his creative instincts with Mourinho's desire for organisation.

Mourinho, 55, will get time. He signed an extension to his contract in January that should keep him at the club until at least 2020.

After putting pen to paper, Mourinho said that, by then, he wanted United to be challenging "for everything."

Cut adrift from Manchester City in the Premier League and out of the Champions League, he has work to do.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


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