Jose Mourinho promises attacking culture

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Manchester United is set to have a more attacking culture in the first season under manager Jose Mourinho after the manager claims the team will play with more aggression. The appointment of Mourinho was greeted with general excitement from fans and many of Louis van Gaal’s critics. Van Gaal earned a negative reputation for a defensive style; however, the negative style of Mourinho’s “park-the-bus” defence while he was the manager at Chelsea. The difference: Mourinho still won the title with the so-called overly defensive style. Chelsea won because the players believed they could win and the team simply did what it had to do with just winning games. At United, Mourinho plans to win, and sometimes, winning is not pretty. At his press conference on Tuesday, Mourinho addressed the style of football he plans to play at United in order to win games.

“I prefer to be more aggressive and say we want to win. And I can anticipate any one of you will come later with a question about style of play and a question about what is before, and I can imagine one of these questions is around the corner and I can anticipate by saying you can win a short competition, a couple of matches, without playing well. But you cannot win competitions without playing well.

“What is playing well? It is scoring more goals than the opponents, conceding less, making your fans proud because you give everything and you win. It is everything at the same time. It is an aggressive approach by myself. I want everything. Of course we are not going to get everything but we want to.”

With his classic tone of answering questions, Mourinho simplified the idea of winning games down to the basic concept of scoring more goals than the opposition. He says that he plans on conceding less, which was not a massive problem last season as David De Gea kept 10 Premier League clean sheets, one shy of Petr Cech who won the golden glove. United will look to fix any problems or gaps in the team seen by Mourinho, and that is already underway as three players have been signed to the first team.

The addition of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will, at the least, provide depth to the squad. Bailly could fall into the defence and with the speed, composure, and skill that he brings to the backline, he could be the rock that keeps the defence in order alongside Chris Smalling. He will need time to develop, especially with the physicality in the Premier League, but Mourinho has addressed his concerns with United’s defence by purchasing Bailly. Ibrahimovic fits a clear need for a No. 9 striker as Marcus Rashford would not be able to take control up top for the whole season. Though Anthony Martial could and should occasionally slot into the striker role, an accomplished striker like Ibrahimovic will bring a potency in front of goal that will help United bag goals. Mkhitaryan is versatile like Bailly but in a different part of the field. He can run around in the center, surge down the wing, and best of all: he scores and assists a multitude of goals.

Scoring goals have been a problem for United in recent years with striker difficulties. The failure of Radamel Falcao was the start of it. Danny Welbeck did not work out, Robin van Persie aged, and Wayne Rooney dropped further back on the field, which Mourinho is vocally against. Mourinho will be looking for United to score goals, but most importantly win games. With the Premier League getting more competitive, goals may become difficult to score causing games to be harder to win. Mourinho knows how to win in the Premier League, and it seems that an emphasis on attacking will be implemented while he takes charge at Old Trafford.

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