Jose Mourinho isn’t feeling the heat quite as much as he was in early October, but things are still far from perfect at Manchester United.
The Red Devils, yet to win three straight Premier League matches this season, produced one of their dullest performances to date in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The drab 0-0 result extended their woeful record at Old Trafford to three wins in their last nine outings - a far cry from the home form required of supposed title contenders.
United host BSC Young Boys in the fifth round of Champions League group games on Tuesday evening, hoping to take three points on their own turf at the third time of asking.
Mourinho has already watched his side draw with Valencia and lose 1-0 to Juventus, so it’s safe to assume he’d be disappointed if they failed to break their duck.
However, the Portuguese boss also insists the visit of the Swiss champions isn’t as critical as some are making out.
“I describe like is not a crucial match because if we don't win tomorrow we still don't depend on other results,” he said, per the Mail.
“So it’s not a crucial game but I want to play from minute one like it's the last chance we have to qualify.
“I want to play this game as a knockout game and the team we are going to play is a team that tries to have that happiness to cope with that little pressure on the players that is not a real pressure because the reality is we have one more match to play.
“But a team to cope with that happiness to play a decisive game. Let's forget against Valencia, let's play this game like a game we have to win.”
It’s an interesting stance to adopt when anything but victory could put United in a precarious position ahead of their final chance of progression to the knockout stages.
And perhaps that’s why Mourinho also served up a challenge to his players in his pre-match media conference, claiming any member of the squad who doesn’t like the pressure of playing at Old Trafford shouldn’t bother turning up.
“If you feel pressure stay at home and when I say ‘home’ I don't say stadium home, I say stay home and watch on TV,” he said.
“When the people come to support, come on. I don’t feel pressure to play at home.
“I think it would be a lack of respect to the stadium and fans to say we prefer to play away from home, I totally refuse to say that. Do I prefer to play tomorrow at Young Boys here or go to Bern I would say immediately to play at home. Always.”
While Mourinho makes a good point, the results do suggest otherwise.
Then again, surely the Red Devils’ current priority has to be building some kind of consistency across all competitions regardless of the venue.News Now - Sport News