Jose Mourinho’s good people make Manchester United a better team!

Manchester United cannot afford to rotate Romelu Lukaku according to manager Jose Mourinho.

Speaking before United’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, the United boss suggested that they are more reliant on Lukaku than any other player at the moment, simply because they do not have the reinforcements to replace him when he’s not available.

“Without Zlatan, we cannot rotate the striker, especially because Marcus Rashford is playing also in other positions.

“So until the moment we have Zlatan, we cannot think about giving rest to our number nine the same way we give in other positions.”

Last season United’s over-reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic was evident right from the start of the season, so supporters could be forgiven for fearing the worst when they hear Mourinho admitting they are in a similar position this time around with Lukaku.

However, this is a different Manchester United. They’ve been scoring goals from all over the pitch so far this season, and although Lukaku is the club’s leading goal scorer, there doesn’t seem to be the same pressure on the forward to carry United through difficult moments.

So when an early Juan Mata strike and two goals from Marouane Fellaini gave United a 3-0 lead against Crystal Palace, it was both pleasing and fairly unsurprising that Mourinho’s side were so comfortable without the intervention of their £75million man.

Recognising this quality, Mourinho was quick to praise his other attacking players after the match.

“We always expect a striker to score more goals than the others but especially our attacking players, they have the freedom to play. They can always be in finishing areas, in fact I want them to be, so if people like Lingard, Mata, Mkhitaryan and Martial score goals, I think it’s just a natural consequence of the way we play.”

That is, I think, one of the fundamental changes at Manchester United this season compared to last. Mourinho received a lot of criticism during his first year in charge for the way he handled the likes of Lingard, Martial and Mkhitaryan. Some will say Lingard played too much, Martial not enough and many are still confused about why Mkhitaryan was absent for such a long time. Now though, we are seeing the fruits of the manager’s labour.

Mourinho has built a team. He has created a group that is no longer reliant on one player, but on many. It is a cohesive unit that is flexible enough to handle playing in many different styles. It’s proving to be incredibly important, too, because United intend to challenge for every single trophy this season. Against different teams, with different tactical systems and a different approach to the matches, Mourinho needs players he can rely on and players he can trust. He feels he has that now.

“I need good players, I need good people. I need some people with maturity, I need some people with the concept of team, I know that the new generations are more individual because this is the way the entourage and society makes them.

“So to have people like Mata, Herrera, Valencia, Matic, to have people like them – and I am just giving a few examples, I could give more – is very important because managers, we don’t have an easy life now.”

Notice that Mourinho doesn’t mention Lukaku or Pogba or Mkhitaryan. Nor does he mention De Gea. He hasn’t spoken about his supposed ‘match winners’ when discussing the quality of the individuals within his squad. That’s a deliberate ploy. Mourinho knows the importance of each individual at his disposal and he knows that United will not win anything without the continued efforts of his supporting cast.

It seems strange to glance at a list of today’s results and see another 4-0 win and seem content that everything is as it should be. We’ve sung the praises of these players for so long amid a torrent of bad results, inexcusable performances and mediocrity in the extreme over the last few years. We were always convinced this group was capable of more. Maybe now all of that lip service, all of that eulogising and all of those wild-eyed predictions weren’t for nothing. Maybe now we have the football team we all thought we did.


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