Manchester United recorded their sixth straight league win on Monday night with a 2-0 win over West Ham United, and according to Gary Neville, this is down to Jose Mourinho’s influence. Mourinho’s substitutions won the game, with half-time substitute Juan Mata scoring the opening goal, which was set up by the other substitute Marcus Rashford, who had a big influence on the game when he came on. Rashford was eventually named man-of-the-match. Neville believes Mourinho should be credited for United’s recent run of form and suggests he hasn’t lost his touch. He spoke to Sky Sports, saying:
“He was accused two or three months ago of losing his magic, of not being able to influence games anymore, but he’s influenced the game enormously today. He’s a great manager. The way in which he deployed Rashford was the best thing. He held him out wide, and it really did cause a massive problem. It’s an old rule that when you’re playing against 10 men you have to make the pitch as big as possible, and Lingard and Mkhitaryan were coming in too narrow, too deep and too early.
“But when Rashford came on in particular, he just hung out on that touchline, high, and made things really difficult. His influence in the game was really big. He created a lot of chances for United, he created the best moment in the game in pulling the ball back for Mata, and I think the substitutions today were big. The way in which he put Michael Carrick in defence paid off for the first goal, putting in that pass out wide.”
Thanks to this result, United currently sit just one point off the top four but have played a game more than Arsenal, who currently sit in fourth. However, Neville believes United next league game, at home against Liverpool, is a true indication of where this team is currently at.
“Their next league game is a big one, a really big one, a home game against Liverpool. I think that will really determine where Manchester United are at for the rest of the season. I think if they can win that match, you can really see them being quite dangerous. They are on the up, they’re getting better, a lot better than they were last season.
“The team is better, they’ve got more arrogance, more personality, and in the last two games they’ve been starting to win a lot more like Manchester United used to win. They haven’t played well today, they weren’t at their absolute best against Middlesbrough and they won.”
No doubt that the upcoming game against Liverpool is huge. United are only five points off the team from Merseyside and a win against them would see that gap be cut down to two points. In terms of the league, I would say the gap at the top from Chelsea is too much to catch. However, the top 4 is very much still in reach despite some silly draws at Old Trafford this season with Stoke, Burnley, and Arsenal. United seem to have found the right formation to suit their personnel so hopefully, this run will continue.