Manchester United have beaten a faltering Swansea City 3-1, with a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a stunning goal from Paul Pogba. The team have finally converted the chances that came their way and it could very easily have been a few more if the players had not taken the foot of the pedal. But that is expected to a certain degree from a team which went in to the half with three goals lead. The difference in this game and the Burnley and Stoke City game was, United did not create as many chances, may be not even half of what they did against Burnley, but they converted the ones that came their way. None of the chances were tap ins or easy per say but both Ibrahimovic and Pogba made sure that they scored. Pogba’s goal set up the game perfectly for United as till then Swansea were just sitting back trying to absorb the pressure. Ibrahimovic did not wait long for his chance and took one from outside the box, although not as solidly as he would have liked. The goal keeper should have certainly done better than he did but after Burnley he deserved such goalkeeping for once.
The striker spoke to the BBC after the game and was upbeat as always, even when asked if he was worried about not scoring
“I wasn’t worried. As long as you create the chances, which I have been doing, the goals will come. But the most important thing is the win. The goals will come.”
He also had a “classic Zlatan” reaction to the 25000th Premier league goal that he scored.
“Ah, no I wasn’t aware. I thought it was only me who had scored 25,000…”
Jose Mourinho, who had to sit in the stands today, due to his one match touch-line ban, was also pretty pleased with his team’s performance
“I’m really pleased. I think for all of us from the United side, it was a calm day from the first minute. We all felt that we were in the game and that we were stable and in control and the players were really good in their focus, their effort and their concentration in following the game-plan. I thought they were really good and I’m really happy for all of them.”
A lot of United supporters on social media were confused and dumbstruck by Mourinho’s team selection, especially the defense. But it was the Portuguese who had the last laugh with his make-shift defence doing the job well.
“Credit to my defensive line – Ashley Young is not a right-back, Matteo Darmian is not a left-back, Phil Jones was a great guy to make himself available for the team even without training for months.”
He also stressed on the importance of the three points, especially with the players going on the international duties.
“We needed these thee points after losing two against Burnley at home. This was the best way to end the period before the internationals.”
Mourinho also mentioned the disadvantages of playing during the week and a few other circumstances which made the recovery plans go for a toss, which might have shown in the second half.
“You could feel in the second half [the tiredness] that we were back at 4am [on Friday from Turkey] and then yesterday we were unlucky again because there were problems with the plane and we should have flown and had a rest here [in Swansea]. But we had to change the plane and arrived at the Swansea hotel at 8pm just for dinner but with no afternoon to rest. We had problems during the week, plus players not available to play but the important thing is we recovered from a bad result at home against Burnley, not a bad performance, but a bad result, and I’m really happy because now the players can go away [on international duty] with the feeling of victory and a good victory.”
When asked about his prolific striker, Mourinho hailed his contribution towards his team, even while not scoring any goals but also expressed his delight that he is back to scoring.
“I didn’t know [that Zlatan had scored 400 club goals]. I just know that he is a great player for the team. Today he scored and he didn’t score in the past three or four or five matches but that doesn’t matter at all because there is one thing having a striker who scores goals and does nothing else. It’s another thing to have a striker that doesn’t score goals, but does everything else and during this period where he was not scoring goals he did everything else for the team. I’m happy that he is back to scoring goals.”
When asked about the midfield, the manager said that it was the sum of three players which made the unit click.
“I thought Michael [Carrick] was the stability, Marouane [Fellaini] was the balance, [Paul] Pogba was the freedom, and all of them together meant the performance was very positive for us.”
Mourinho’s counterpart however is still waiting for his first Premier League victory and rued his team’s performance
“We were pushed deep in the first half and didn’t have enough time on the ball. When we did have time on the ball we weren’t very sharp. They punished us with long shots. They had three shots and three goals so it was strange in that respect.”
All in all it was a good day at the office for Mourinho and he will be pumped up for the game after the international break. United will host Arsenal at Old Trafford and this time it will be even more explosive. Mourinho versus his old arch rival, Arsene Wenger and add to that the United-Arsenal rivalry and things can and will get heated. Hopefully the players are up for it and come back safe and sound from their international duties. With United only six points off top four spot, a win against the north London side will take them to close to the Champions League spot. With lots at stake, it’s going to be one long international break for the fans. A lot of fireworks are waiting on the other side, hopefully United end up on the right side of the result.