Mourinho asserts “Zlatan and Rashford can play together” and explains his mantra for the Premier League

That was not a vintage Manchester United performance but it was a victory which the fans must have seen a lot of times during the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson era. This was always going to be a tricky game considering the style of play Hull City comes with and tricky it was. With all due credit to Hull City and their defending performance, Manchester United were the deserved winners and all thanks to the boy wonder, Marcus Rashford. The striker was understandably delighted while speaking after the game.

“Amazing. First away game for me this season and happy to get the three points and goal. The fans came onto the pitch to celebrate and that is part of football.

“I am getting on in training and waiting for moments like this. It is being amazing being around players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic every day, I am learning a lot from them.”

Mourinho’s United side looked extremely safe and secure at the back but lacked the final punch in the first half. However, the display in the second half was much better and things were looking up, especially after the introduction of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Rashford on to the scene. But every attack, every shot somehow ended up being saved or missed. It certainly looked like one of those days, where nothing, absolutely nothing comes off and United full-back Luke Shaw had a similar feeling too.

“To be honest I didn’t think it was going to be our day but we didn’t stop and luckily Marcus Rashford was in the right position at the right time.

“In the last three games we haven’t played our best, we are still gelling and improving. The signs are really positive. Last season the defence was very strong and we are building on that. We have a great partnership going, it is a strong team.”

There has been a lot of criticism of the previous two United managers, especially with respect to the mentality that they brought along. One talked about his aspirations to be like Liverpool and Manchester City while the other never evolved from his philosophy and rigid approach. The results are good but it is too early to predict anything but one thing is pretty evident from the first four games of the season – this United team wants to fight and fight to win, nothing less. This is the mentality that has been missing from the players for past three seasons and it is heartwarming to see it making its return. United manager, too, spoke about this mentality and how it is important going forward in the season.

“We deserved it and in a more comfortable way. It is a great feeling when you win the points in the last-minute.

“The boys were very strong and the second half was like going to fight against a wall. We had an amazing mentality. We were very strong and tried to create problems for the opposition. We tried and tried and got it.

“I tell the boys every day we have to go into every match to win. We must not be happy with less than a win. We know we will draw or lose matches but the mentality has to be go to win. Today they showed that.”

He also elaborated on how he goes about embedding this winning mentality in the players

“We started to think about what this game could be even before the game started. We knew the way they defended. We knew that [Tom] Huddlestone would play in a line of three and we knew they would be very organised. Tactically you can change things, bring situations to the game, try to create problems for your opponent, but it’s the mental side of it that can make a difference. We speak about this all the time. Our objective is only one – to be champions.

“If we don’t win, we don’t win, but the mentality is there and the boys are giving everything . It’s amazing when I look to my side and I see the people on the bench suffering with us and then jumping for the goal. It’s a privilege for me to work with these guys.”

The manager also had some very generous and kind words for Rashford, the youngster, and star of the evening.

“Marcus Rashford has a lot of chances waiting for him. When the team was chasing the ball against Leicester in the Community Shield and tonight, he made a difference for us.

“He gives new problems to the opposition so I am really happy with him and the team. Even defensively, we controlled their counter attack.”

Mourinho dangled a drool-worthy prospect of playing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rashford together, in front of the fans, too.

“Everybody is speaking about him and Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] – they can play together as they showed today. I think with more work he can play coming from one of the sides but I think the kid is a striker and when we play with him and Ibra together we give different problems to the opposition. Sometimes Ibra drops back because he already likes to play with the ball at his feet and Marcus is fast and has appetite to attack the last line. We tried everything.”

Mourinho again took time out to applaud the fans for their support throughout the game which certainly complimented player’s efforts.

“Of course I feel sorry for Hull but my guys deserved it and the way the fans supported them, especially in the second half, the fans had that feeling too and knew we were doing everything.”

Mourinho in his interview also gave his “mantra” and how he would like to go about this Premier League campaign of his.

“We want to be champions, we don’t want to start well, we want to finish well.”

With the International break coming up, this win would now taste even sweeter. Sulking over a draw, which would have felt like a loss, for two weeks, only to get in to the match of the season (most probably), doesn’t bode so well. The players, managers and also the fans need to be in high spirits going in to the derby and this late winner has done exactly that. Premier League will be out of sight for the next two weeks but when it comes back, it won’t get any bigger than that. Pep Guardiola V/S Jose Mourinho in a Manchester derby is a mouth-watering prospect and with both the clubs doing good, the contest will be even and exciting. See you in a couple of weeks!

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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