Manchester United completed an incredible comeback in the dying embers of the game to close the gap on top 4 as Mourinho’s men continue to march on into the new year.
1- Martial and Rashford benefitted from some rest.
The young pair, who practically rescued United last season, struggled to get going this year much to the confusion of many. Simply put, they’re still youngster despite their impact and so are more prone to burnout than other senior players.
Let’s not forget the huge amounts of pressure placed on them so far but this season, the spotlight has turned to Ibrahimovic and Pogba. This, alongside Mourinho recognising the pair need a rest, has allowed them both to feel reinvigorated and ready to win their place back in the side.
Rashford was on only for a little while but it was clear that he was no longer the tired kid who dribbled into dead ends. Martial also looked an entirely different player and deserves praise too for fighting his way back into the first XI. Mourinho once again has shown his man management skills.
2- Pressing key to win.
For once, United didn’t seem like some of their players were pressing and others weren’t. Instead, in last night’s game the team collectively pressed leading to Mkhitaryan making the most number of interceptions of any player on the pitch.
The team forced Middlesbrough into errors and the high press meant that they couldn’t break as often as they would’ve like to. Ibrahimovic can be seen chasing opposition defenders down till the last minute which is pretty incredible for a 35 year old.
Everyone worked hard to win the ball back and it was pleasant to see that no one took their position as granted anymore. Mourinho can be seen during the game pushing his players higher up the pitch as they searched for a win.
3- Carrick is irreplaceable.
The English veteran missed last night’s game due to illness and United missed his calming presence on the pitch. What he brings to the team is so many different qualities but perhaps one of the most important in this formation is defensive security.
Herrera was tasked to replace Carrick earlier on in the season and despite highly impressive displays, just didn’t do the job the same way Carrick does. United looked a little more shaky than in recent games despite Middlesbrough offering little going forward.
The Spaniard was again asked to fill in for the Englishman and definitely had a good game but doesn’t have the same effect that Carrick does. It’ll be very tough to find a player who can do the exact same job as him once he retires and his experience will be missed.
4- Pogba the difference again.
He was berated and made a scapegoat by rival fans in the beginning of the season but the Frenchman has seriously kicked on since then. Yesterday he was singlehandedly the difference.
The former Juventus man played a ridiculous long ball from his own half to Ibrahimovic who headed it down to Martial for the first goal and was there to head home the winner too.
His ability can not be overrated or overstated even as he deserves all the current praise coming his way. Pogba is definitely the player Mourinho needs to build his team around and since he’s still young, United could have a world class player on their hands for many years to come.
5- Why did Moyes and LVG ask for so much time?
Mourinho’s impact has been instant and it begs the question why so many coaches ask for time before everyone sees their affect on teams? Mourinho certainly hasn’t made the Red Devils champions already but the improvement that can be seen is massive.Moyes practically begged for time when all the fans could see was steady regression.
Louis Van Gaal was another who claimed that his philosophy would take years to complete but why? Surely Mourinho is the perfect example that this time business is nonsense.No one asked either manager for titles but simply for improvement and the United fans got neither.
Mourinho has changed the teams mentality so quickly that it’s actually staggering. Players who the fans didn’t imagine to be in the first XI have fought their way into the team under him. His work cannot be given enough credit despite the need for more improvement still. There’s plenty more to come from Mourinho and his men.