Jose Mourinho and his men have finally ended their rough three-match losing streak against Northampton Town in the fourth round of the EFL Cup. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho came into the game desperate for a win, as another disappointing result could have a massive toll on the mindset of his players and fans of the club. Whilst this wasn’t a game of much significance, United needed a win in order to pick up their momentum and carry on their search for glory.
The game started off relatively well for United, with Michael Carrick putting the Reds in front in the 17th minute. Tensions raised when the home side were able to capitalize through a penalty just before the half, which led to manager Jose Mourinho making a couple of cautious decisions in order to ensure his team got a much-needed win. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford were able to come into the game and they both definitely helped the team get the win, with Rashford giving United the lead once again. On paper the result is good, but it doesn’t fully represent the performance out on the pitch tonight. Jose Mourinho spoke to Sky Sports shortly after the win and evaluated the “deserved” win by stating:
“We deserved it. It was as I was expecting. We were totally in control for the first 35 minutes and then we were back in control for the last 25 minutes.”
A major change from the previous few games. Manchester United have looked great in almost all of their second halves this season, however, that has not been the case for the first half, as was seen in the previous three games prior to tonight’s clash. A major sign of improvement, and hopefully the team is able to keep this up as it can set the tone for the rest of the game and set the opposition on their back foot from the get-go. Mourinho then added:
“As a team we had control from the beginning. I think the substitutions were just a contribution and, overall, the team was completely in control. The game could and should have been easier, because normally it is easier against 10 men – we should have been playing against 10 men very early in the second half. But they fought and they played with their strength. They tried to cause us problems, which they did at times, so it was a difficult match but overall it was a positive performance.”
Personally, I believe that being able to have a number of great options from the bench can have a massive impact on Manchester United’s results this season. Being able to bring on Ibrahimovic with years and years of success under his belt alongside Rashford who has an insane amount of energy and composure shows how Manchester United are able to apply pressure on their opponents for the full 90 minutes of the game. United didn’t look great, but they were the better team out today, and that will hopefully bring positivity back to the club as the team hopes to gather a couple of wins along the next couple of games. A major talking point of the first half was the penalty which saw Northampton Town equal the score, and Mourinho’s reaction when asked what his thoughts were on the decision was:
“Well, I think I should stop speaking about the referee’s decisions and I should just wait for you to speak about it. Some with an honest vision, some with a dishonest vision, but I should just wait a couple of minutes. I know I talked about the red card, but that was a dangerous situation, and I am not speaking about the penalty. I am speaking a situation that could happen and what could have been an important injury. Even in this kind of situation I should stop and leave it with you.”
A smart decision by Mourinho, better stay quiet and let the media decide then be battered on later on for blaming the referee’s decision which might have cost United a result. Lastly, the manager went on to comment on Michael Carrick’s performance, by saying:
“I don’t want to individualise too much, I think he was fine and I think the midfield worked really well in the control of the game. I changed Schneiderlin to Marouane to try to stop what I know was going to happen with our opponent losing 2-1, which was for them to put long balls into the box and waiting for set pieces. But I think collectively the team was fine.”
Michael Carrick was one of the better players out on the pitch tonight and deserved at least some praise by Mourinho. He played well alongside Morgan Schneiderlin and it will be interesting if any of the two get an opportunity to play again over the weekend against Leicester, and have the opportunity to possibly play alongside Paul Pogba. With a tough game coming up against Leicester, it will be interesting to see how today’s performance impacts the performance of the team this Saturday.