After heavily criticising his lacklustre Manchester United players in the 2-1 defeat away to Turkish side Fenerbahce, Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his side’s performance in the 3-1 victory over Swansea City. The home side had beaten United 2-1 last season, following a howler by reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero, but history did not repeat itself as Mourinho’s side dominated the first half – scoring all three goals inside the first forty-five minutes.
Paul Pogba opened the scoring with an exceptional right footed strike from the edge of the area. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had not scored in the Premier League since the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City – scored his fifth league goal of the season with a well taken low right footed drive just after the twenty minute mark. The big Swede added his sixth league goal of the season twelve minutes later when a rejuvenated Wayne Rooney burst forward before playing in United’s number nine. Ibrahimovic’s composure helped him to balance and move the ball onto his left foot, before smashing home.
Although Swansea City are in a relegation battle, United’s performance and result was well received following some disappointing matches lately. Mourinho felt his players were far more focused and in control than in recent matches.
The Portuguese, who watched from the stands having picked up a one match ban following his conduct at half time against Burnley, spoke of how pleased he was with the win, although he also felt that United tired in the second half after travelling back from Istanbul early Friday morning.
“I’m really pleased. I think for all of us from the United side, it was a calm day from the first minute. We all felt that we were in the game and that we were stable and in control and the players were really good in their focus, their effort and their concentration in following the game-plan. I thought they were really good and I’m really happy for all of them.
You could feel in the second half (tiredness) that we were back at 4am (Friday from Turkey) and then yesterday we were unlucky again because there were problems with the plane and we should have flown and had a rest here (in Swansea). But we had to change the plane and arrived at the Swansea hotel at 8pm just for dinner but with no afternoon to rest. We had problems during the week, plus players not available to play but the important thing is we recovered from a bad result at home against Burnley, not a bad performance, but a bad result, and I’m really happy because now the players can go away (on international duty) with the feeling of victory and a good victory.”
United will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Arsenal (next fixture on November 19th) as the United forward picked up his fifth booking of the season. His manager was, again, full of praise for the player brought in from PSG in the summer, stating that he is great for the team, even when he isn’t scoring goals:
“I just know that he is a great player for the team. Today he scored and he didn’t score in the past three or four or five matches but that doesn’t matter at all because there is one thing having a striker who scores goals and does nothing else. It’s another thing to have a striker that doesn’t score goals, but does everything else and during this period where he was not scoring goals he did everything else for the team. I’m happy that he is back to scoring goals.”
Mourinho also feels that Michael Carrick brings stability to the United midfield, which in turn frees up Paul Pogba to roam forward. The French midfielder had one of his best games so far for United, continuing his impressive second half performance against Burnley – however, the United boss was quick to sing the praises of the United veteran, who is now in his tenth season at the club.
I thought this game was brilliant, a really well needed victory for us. For me, Carrick made the difference, he does so much work which goes unnoticed but is vital for our creative players to make an impact and also brings stability to our defensive players.
He’s going to be hard to replace, hope there’s plenty more games in him this season.