Reaction from tonight’s win at Bournemouth.
A fine response
Jose Mourinho rung the changes as he aimed to get a response from Sunday’s dismal result against West Brom ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. In came a number of favourites supporters have been longing to get a chance.
Quite what that response meant, we’ll consider in a minute. But in terms of wanting his team to play well and get a win, well, it’s job done for Mourinho. He was impressed with the performance.
It wasn’t spectacular but it wasn’t the ‘dullfest’ he is often accused of providing. This was a professional job in a tough arena as Mourinho’s team got a stronger grip on second place.
…but what did we really learn?
Anthony Martial showed flashes of brilliance. Marcus Rashford occasionally spluttered into life. The pair, along with Jesse Lingard, showed a nice fluidity in tandem. Luke Shaw was solid and gave a convincing argument for starting a left back at left back. And Paul Pogba, the stand out name in this heavily rotated team, wasn’t brilliant, but showed enough quality to underline why his is a talent United can’t really afford to leave out.
But how will this really translate going forward? What did Mourinho gain in knowledge from this game which will effect his selection for Saturday or even further going forward?
Because let’s face it. Luke Shaw could have put in a 10/10 tonight and Saturday would be out. Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind were brought in from the wilderness and there is no serious possibility of them playing a greater part from now until the summer – it could easily have been the end of their Old Trafford careers tonight.
And what do we need to know about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling? We get the same every week — errors and lapses in judgement that are either ruthlessly punished or given big let offs. Tonight it was 2-0 and on their slips, Smalling and Jones were quick enough to compensate. We know that this isn’t always the case and it doesn’t matter if we’re playing City or Newcastle.
In some respects it was a rotated side where it was difficult to tell who was in the side to be punished or who was out of it for that reason, because there was certainly a mixture. That should mean that Mourinho is likely to stick to his regular team on Saturday, with Herrera coming in for a 4-3-3 and Sanchez and Young getting a recall. In such an event, what did we really learn?
All things relative; his display was enough to impress the BT Sport crew to give him the man of the match award but this was a 7.5/10 performance even if he was just about the best player on the pitch. He was ambitious with his passing and his assist for the second goal was fantastic. Yet one would expect him to run a game like this with his eyes shut and for periods of the first half he still seemed to be on the periphery. He played eighty minutes, which is a long enough time to make it a genuine question mark whether he starts from the bench at the weekend. He started in January against Spurs at Wembley and looked out of sorts; the problem United is that leaving him out completely is more or less conceding the midfield completely.