Analysing Jose Mourinho’s Biggest Victory In Manchester United Colors

Jose Mourinho congratulates Henrikh Mkhitaryan on his performance

Manchester United showed signs of resurgence as they ran clear winners against Feyenoord on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League 2016-17. It was a performance that brought back the memories of the days of dominance at Old Trafford, as the Red Devils hit four goals past the Dutch league leaders with some scintillating displays in the attack from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who returned to the team for the first time since September.

The 20-time Premier League winners started the game on a positive note, with Mkhitaryan and Rooney combining well to cause early problems for the Dutch team before Wayne Rooney scored his 39th goal for United in European competitions, giving the home team a 1-0 lead. With his strike, the England and United captain became the leading goal-scorer for the Red Devils in all European competitions, going past Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Rooney then set up Juan Mata for United’s second, in the second half, with some beautiful interplay between the United forwards. The home side’s lead extended a few minutes later, as Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones deflected a Zlatan Ibrahimović cut-back into his own net. Substitute Jesse Lingard made it four for the Red Devils in the stoppage time to finish off a fine performance by Mourinho’s team.

The 4-0 win was United’s biggest victory under new manager Jose Mourinho, after having struggled to kick on despite a positive start to the season. And the display was sure to have pleased the controversial Portuguese. “Tonight was a performance and a result,” Mourinho said after the match. “Today they played very well again, and with goals, which is very important for us.”

United were on the front foot throughout the game, as they tried to press the Feyenoord players high up the pitch, never letting the visitors settle on the ball for a long period. They looked very positive going forward, as the beautiful link-up play between their attackers was on full display.

The Red Devils finished the games with 24 attempts on goal, with 12 efforts among them being on target, a season-high for the Mancunians in any competitions. Henrikh Mkhitaryan alone attempted 6 shots among the 24, two more than he had throughout this season until yesterday. Goes on to show their dominant display in the attack on Thursday night.

While Rooney and Mkhitaryan showed their class, Juan Mata was not to be left behind either. Playing out on the right-flank, the Spaniard was full of endeavour, as he cut inside regularly, troubling the Feyenoord defence.

He added the gloss to a fine performance with a well-taken goal in the second half. It was his second strike in two games after having scored against Arsenal over the weekend in the 1-1 draw against the Gunners. First time since September 2015 that the former Chelsea player has managed to score two in two consecutive games for United.

While their attacking strengths were on display, the midfield was not to be left behind as the duo of Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba put in a strong showing in the middle of the park. While Carrick was his calm self, controlling the pace of the game, the Frenchman was full of running as he forayed forward to support his team in attack.

The defenders too were on top of the Feyenoord players, as they stood strong and did not give many opportunities to the opponents. Daley Blind especially stood out, picking out passes from the deep with great accuracy.

All in all, it was an accomplished performance from Mourinho’s team, who have been under a lot of pressure as the results haven’t come for the past weeks. The performances of a much-criticized Wayne Rooney and Mkhitaryan, who returned from the cold, would have particularly pleased the Portuguese manager.

The players and fans will certainly be hoping that Thursday night marked a new beginning, but with West Ham up next for United in the Premier League, will they be able to show the same flair as they did on Thursday and break the run of draws they have accumulated? Or was this just a one-match wonder? But one thing is for sure, with all their players starting to get into a groove, it will be a grave error to disregard United’s bid for the title this soon.

Written by Raghavendra Goudar

Mechanical Engineer, avid reader and a football fanatic.

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