Where did that come from? Manchester United fans were pleasantly surprised by their team’s outstanding first half performance, which blitzkrieged Leicester City out of the game in the first 45 minutes. United started off this campaign well, with three wins on the trot but the performance always lacked something or the other. The first half at Old Trafford this afternoon was as perfect as it could get. One unanimous opinion was that it was the first time they saw their team play so extravagantly after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Although the scoreline at halftime read 4-0 it could have easily been a couple more.
The game started off with a lot of optimism due to the benching of Wayne Rooney, however, the important part was for the team to perform in a manner that could justify the dropping of their captain. There couldn’t have been any better way of making that statement and although Rooney is not the only issue with this United team, this starting XI came very close to being perfect on the day. But Mourinho still maintained that the England captain still has a big role to play.
“He’s a big player for me, a big player for United and a big player for this country. I don’t want to say anything else. He’s my man, I trust him completely and he’s as happy as I am at the moment. His team won and that’s normal, he’s happy.”
The manager also expressed his delight with his team’s performance and was glad that he could overturn the record of being unable to beat them the last season around.
“Today we had intensity, movement and dynamism. To be back home and beat the champions is good. Last season we couldn’t beat them and this season we have beaten them twice already.”
If one compares the performance today to the one in the first three wins, there were a lot of differences but one stark contrast was the start and the manager too agreed on that part.
“I think we started well for the first time I can say. Normally our second-half performances are better than the first. I don’t know why as we prepare in the same way with the same professionalism. Today we had intensity, we had good movement, we were dynamic and we were strong defensively against a team that, I repeat, are easy to analyse but hard to cope with. To be back home and beat the champions is good. Last season we couldn’t beat them and this season we’ve already beaten them twice.”
The similar sentiment were expressed by today’s man of the match, Paul Pogba,
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 24, 2016
In spite of some great individual performance, manager stressed upon the fact that it was a team that played well and got the result.
“I think the team played very well. You score four goals but your striker doesn’t score a goal and yet I think the striker played phenomenal. I think [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic played fantastic in the way he was the start of our attacks. I prefer to say that my team as a team played well.”
It was exactly the result which team and the fans wanted, to overcome all the negativity that surrounded the club for playing poorly for a week. But more importantly, the team needs to now continue putting in such performances and getting such results.
“We lost six points in the Premier League but the reality is that we are not drawing, we are winning. The situation of dropping points but not drawing games is basically the same. We have 12 points but today was about the result, the performance and the happiness of the fans. On Thursday we have a very important match in the Europa League and to be back here after such a good result for us is good.”
Mourinho’s counterpart, on the other hand, was at a loss of words considering his team, who are usually very good at set pieces and corners, let in three goals from the corners. But he also maintained that his team now needs to pick themselves up for the Champions League game.
“It is not possible to concede three goals from corners. That means you are not concentrating. We are usually very solid at corners and free-kicks, it was very strange. Until now we have been very strong, we have made some mistakes. I can understand that they score with headers, that they are very tall, but to score a smart goal from a corner is not possible.
“It is important to clean our mind and get ready for the Champions League on Tuesday.”
It was not just the footballing world that was impressed by United and specifically Pogba’s performance, Usain Bolt, a United fan, took to twitter to express his emotions
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) September 24, 2016
This now sets up an excellent platform for United to build upon going in to a crucial month of October, where they play Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Manchester City and Chelsea in ten days. But that’s in the future and today is a day to be positive and happy because this is the United that people turn up to watch and hoped to watch in the past three years. But at the same time, it also warrants for objectivity and patience. The performance was top notch but consistency is the key and the team along with their manager knows it. So until the next time, Go United!