Manchester United sit sixth in the table, twelve points off Chelsea’s pace and suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in recent memory when they travelled to Stamford Bridge back in October.
However, there have been several major positives for Jose Mourinho during his short reign at the Theatre Of Dreams.
Style of Play
Louis van Gaal was either too stubborn or too out-of-touch to realise what United fans desperately wanted, even above results for some, was a team worth watching. His archaic, insipid philosophy didn’t cause his exit but it certainly hastened it.
Mourinho caught on far quicker and his side have been one of the most entertaining teams in the league in recent months with their lowly goal tally belying their free-flowing tactics. In fairness, with the embarrassment of riches he has at his disposal, it’s not the most impressive feat that he managed to oversee some attacking football.
Use of Paul Pogba
Lesser men would have withdrawn Pogba on Sunday after a calamitous first half display against Liverpool. But, as he has all season, he trusted his record signing and stuck with him. The only time he’s come off this season, despite some poor performances, was owing to an injury suffered against Fenerbahce.
The French starlet has been instrumental in his side’s supreme form of late and had Mourinho, as David Moyes would have, hooked Pogba during his early-season (relative) struggles, he may never have discovered the form that drove to United to their winning run.
Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Morgan Schneiderlin, Marouane Fellaini. Just some of the ill-fated signings to be completed by the club prior to the Special One’s arrival. The four deals he completed in the summer have all been resounding successes, it could be argued. Eric Bailly has impressed whenever he’s played, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the club’s top scorer and Pogba has produced world class form when needed.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the only question mark, in this writer’s mind.
Treatment of Mkhitaryan(?)
Mourinho could have been reintroduced the Armenian in October and he may have produced the brilliant performances he’s shown since his December reemergence.
Alternatively, he may have maintained, or even worsened, his levels from the Derby in September. He could have lost his nerve and be back in Dortmund already. It’s impossible to know whether this was a positive for the boss or a missed opportunity to recall him when they were struggling for goals.
We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s handled a delicate situation as well as he could have.
Dropping Wayne Rooney
It was a long overdue decision, even Mourinho was overly reluctant to exclude the Liverpudlian.
Wayne Rooney has been the most detrimental force on the United side for years now and they have been infinitely better minus the club captain. The 4-1 destruction of Leicester in the immediate aftermath of his dropping was indicative of the vastly improved performances Mourinho’s charges have put in since.
Rory Murphy, Pundit Arena
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