Manchester United looked a lot like the United of old against Feyenoord, with relentless attacking play and the ability to carve out several chances at will.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan finally got his chance to demonstrate the obvious, he is a bloody good player and should never be left out again.
The Armenian playmaker was at the heart of everything good about United with his movement and determination to get on the ball. He was a joy to watch and subsequently United played some scintillating football at times.
The 4-1-4-1 formation suited Mourinho’s men down to the ground as Michael Carrick sat in front of a flat back four allowing Paul Pogba the freedom to join the attack. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney gave a much improved performance as he became United’s record European goalscorer while moving within one goal of Bobby Charlton’s record 249 goals for the club.
Rooney may be nowhere near the player of old but the story about his late night boozing has gone way too far and nobody can ever doubt his achievements in the game. He will surpass Charlton’s record and that in itself is a tremendous feat.
United may be lying in sixth place in the Premier League with some ground to make up on the top four but recent performances have been very encouraging. Last season the Old Trafford crowd endured snooze fest after snooze fest, as under Louis van Gaal they played mind numbingly cautious, dull and pragmatic possession football.
It has been much brighter at Old Trafford under Mourinho, even if results suggest otherwise. United should have been at least three or four up against Stoke before Joe Allen’s late equaliser.
The Burnley game was even worse as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. registered a staggering 37 shots on goal without converting. This was due to some heroic goalkeeping from Tom Heaton and poor finishing by United.
The late goal by Olivier Giroud on Saturday was a real kick in the teeth in a game where Arsenal did not threaten David de Gea, until the goal that is. A defensive lapse in concentration was punished, but at the end of the day United also need to be more ruthless rather than holding on to a 1-0 lead.
On recent evidence, it was always going to be a matter of time before United would run up a big scoreline and the Dutch league leaders were the victims. The result leaves Mourinho’s side only needing a draw against bottom side Zorya Luhansk to secure a place in the knockout round.
United face a fight to get into the top four of the Premier League but the Europa League is a big competition for them that offers another route to the Champions League. It is obvious that it is been taken seriously by the club.
West Ham are the next visitors to Old Trafford and the same attacking intent and clinical goalscoring is required once again. In fact, United need to aim to play like that in every game.
Vincent O’Shea, Pundit Arena