Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has throughout his career faced criticism from various quarters due to team tactics or outright arrogance in his approach. Despite a broad personality that can only be rivalled by his success, someway, somehow, he seemed to get the job done.
It is clear that United have improved in the 2017-2018 season despite falling way behind runaway champions Manchester City. The Portuguese has orchestrated some of the best moments in the Premier League this season that mirrored Sir Alex Ferguson’s days of United being ‘comeback kings’.
- Manchester United 5 Arsenal 2
The two titans squared off in the Premier League twice in what was a classic masterpiece by Mourinho. In the first meeting, United headed to the Emirates on the backdrop of two consecutive losses on that ground. It was expected that they would crumble under the hostile atmosphere and the Gunners’ beautiful football.
However, Mourinho decided to make a change to his defensive setup. He switched to three central defenders at the back to match Arsene Wenger’s system man for man. This worked superbly as he directed his team to play a high pressing game from the go. The result was phenomenal as United were 2-0 up by the 12th minute. Despite sustaining wave after wave of attack, they emerged 3-1 winners on the day.
In the return leg in Manchester, United on the other hand were expected to win. This is because Arsenal had placed all their chips on the Europa League given that they had fallen way down the pecking order domestically. Wenger fielded a weakened side as they still had to manoeuvre through a tricky semi-final return leg against Atletico Madrid.
Mourinho brilliant Fellaini substitution
After a subdued performance that had the match locked at 1-1, Mourinho introduced towering Marouane Fellaini for the ineffective Jesse Lingard in the 64th minute. The Belgian role was clear; provide an aerial threat in the opposition box and he did. In the 91st minute, a typical route one play by provided Ashley Young’s cross into the box saw Fellaini nod home for the winner.
- Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3
This cracker was ideally a coronation match for City against their fierce rivals. For United, it was a matter of keeping some of that Red Devils by halting the champions-elect from being crowned at their expense. It was business as usual for City as they rushed to a 2-0 lead by the half hour mark.
In the second half, United produced a remarkable performance with three goals in 17 minutes to turn the game on its head. Reports emerged that it was Jose’s half time team talk that rallied the team to play with more determination. With United set to play Tottenham Hotspurs in the FA Cup final, a win will surely give the team the much needed lift as the boss surely targets a better season in the coming months.