After suffering the humiliating loss against Chelsea on Sunday , Jose Mourinho started the League Cup game with Manchester City apologising to the Old Trafford crowd for the humiliation at the hands of Chelsea .
On Wednesday night, Mourinho persisted with his tried and trusted formation of 4-2-3-1 although he did make some alterations which saw Michael Carrick partner Ander Herrera in the centre of the park shifting Paul Pogba high as the No 10 and Juan Mata playing on the right side of attack joined by Marcus Rashford on the right.
One clear thing from the match is that United looked much balanced in every area when compared to the team that had conceded five goals scoring once, gaining two points in the last three league games. This is mainly due to the fact that though deprived of their preferred centre-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, the North West club did not just sit back to defend against City like they did In the second half against Liverpool and Chelsea in the league . From the onset United pressed City high up, as the wingers were not reliant on their defensive duties but concentrated more on making their presence felt in attack. This restricted the movement of City right and left defenders (Clinchy and Maffeo) who did not have the freedom and luxury to venture forward and join in launching deadly crosses to the attackers . What this entails is that Jose Mourinho has to change his approach to games considering the quality of players in his squad as his team play better when set out to attack rather than the now infamous cautious defensive football that have been witnessed during his little time at the club.
It’s no Zlatan’s fault
Secondly for United to score goals, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will have to remain in the oppositions penalty box as this is where he is more deadly. While the Swede has been criticised severally for not being mobile enough and contributing very little to his team, one thing these fans have failed to spot is the lack of chances or opponents the midfielders have created for him. This has in turn forced the former Juventus man to probe deep in search of the ball as he is always isolated upfront . Part of this problem is the inability of youngster Marcus Rashford to play the Swede on when clear on goal as the United academy graduate prefers to run at defenders using his trickery to get past them and cutting Inside to shot on goal rather than square a simple pass to the Swede. This is not Rashford’s fault though as he tries to adapt to playing on the wings despite being a forward before the appointment of Mourinho. To avoid a reoccurrence of this, Rashford has to learn when to run at defenders, whip in a cross , shot on goal , or square a pass to the striker or team mates .
Make-shift central defence
Finally the impressive form of left footers Marcus Rojo and Daley Blind as centre-backs will increase the fans optimism considering the way both left-backs marshalled the central defence against the likes of Sergio Aguero, Jesus Navas, Nolito and Leroy Sane as United ran out 1-0 (Juan Mata) winners on the night. Jose Mourinho will pray the pairs form will continue as the chase leaders Manchester City who are six points ahead .