Manchester Evening News
February 6, 2017 Monday
Henri the great helps Reds find killer touch
UNITED FIND THE 'BANG' AND 'BOOM' MOURINHO WAS LOOKING FOR THANKS TO
THE SUPERB MKHITARYAN CUTTING THE CHAMPIONS TO PIECES
by stuart mathieson
THE penny is finally dropping with United's players.
Jose Mourinho's latest public messages have clearly got through to his
squad after he attacked their poor finishing quality and perceived
lack of winning mentality that was sabotaging their efforts to make a
decisive hit on the top four race.
Less than two weeks ago Mourinho was telling the media: "A top team
has to be much more clinical. You have to get the first chance of the
match and 'bang,' 1-0. "When you are winning by a goal then, the next
chance, 'boom' - kill the opponent. And we are not doing that enough."
And just 48 hours prior to the Leicester match he was questioning some
of his players over their mental state that had cost United so many
points this campaign after nine league draws.
The MKHITARYAN there can future role as the Stuart "They need that
time to go out of their comfort zone or a zone where they are
protected that we assume the objective is not to win," said Mourinho.
This was a vicious response to those valid points from the Old
In fairness, it did take a while at the King Power stadium to wonder
if the messages had fallen on deaf ears.
Leicester are certainly not the in-yourface, vibrant, counter
attackers they were last season as they created the fairytale league
title season, but United were certainly helping them look more like
champions than the relegation strugglers they now are.
Mourinho has often waited for his interval chance to change things,
but he couldn't wait on this occasion.
Retro 4-4-2 was ditched after just 20 minutes and that allowed Henrikh
Mkhitaryan to be released from his wasted wing role.
There hadn't been many chances at all but when the Armenian burst
through onto Chris Smalling's flicked-on header, he went at the heart
of Leicester's defence and as Mourinho said it was 'bang' 1-0. Then it
was 'boom' in a minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally woke from his
slumber and steered in the irrepressible proved only be one for him...
number 10 Mathieson second from Antonio Valencia's cross. Any
Leicester revival was obliterated.
United had killed them, just as Mourinho wanted.
The irrepressible Mkhitaryan proved that there surely can only be one
future role for him in the Reds XI and that is as the number 10.
Whether he is doing it by sheer power with his bullet finishes or
clever vision to set up Juan Mata for the Spaniard to make it 3-0
after 49 minutes, the Armenian is a must in that role coveted by so
many in United's squad.
Maybe Mourinho is 'into something good after all.' ¦ HENRIKH
MKHITARYAN AT 10 HENRIKH Mkhitaryan started on the left, but it wasn't
until he was moved inside by Jose Mourinho that United began to
He scored the first, then made the third for Juan Mata. He was
involved in most of the good things United did, able to drift around
and find space wherever he wanted.
WHAT ROB It was a performance that might tempt Mourinho to make the
change permanent. ¦ 4-4-2 MOURINHO sprung a surprise by starting with
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford up front.
It didn't really work and it was only when he went back to 4-2-3-1
that United began to look like the better team.
It does, though, show that Mourinho is actively looking for ways to
help United score more goals.
He's rarely played 4-4-2 at any of the clubs he's been but he was
flexible enough to try it.
We may see it more next season if WE he signs a new striker and
Ibrahimovic stays for another year.
DAWSON ¦ ERIC BAILLY IS FIRST CHOICE PHIL Jones and Marcos Rojo have
been good. And Chris Smalling has looked comfortable whenever he's
come into the team.
But at the King Power Stadium, Eric Bailly reminded everyone that he
is still first choice.
He slotted seamlessly back into the team on his first game back since
the Africa Cup of Nations.
Hopefully Jamie Vardy escaped from the Ivorian's pocket before the kit
was loaded back onto the bus.
¦ ANTHONY MARTIAL IS BEING MADE TO WAIT HE was, at least, back in the
squad to play Leicester. But even with United 3-0 up and cruising,
Martial was still overlooked in favour of Ashley Young.
Young might argue that he needed a run out, too. But it looks like
Martial will have to earn his next chance.
Watford at home on Saturday might be the ideal opportunity for
Mourinho to see if the Frenchman has learned his lesson.
doing that to There chances at Armenian onto in finally slumber The
irrepressible Mkhitaryan proved there can only be one future role for
him... as the number 10 Stuart Mathieson
4- another WHAT WE LEARNED ANALYSIS ROB DAWSON