Manchester United have enjoyed a great start to their Premier League season. With consecutive 4-0 wins under their belts, The Red Devils sit at the top of the EPL standings with Manchester City’s game against Everton to be played this Monday. But barring a momumental win from either club, United should stay at the top for, at least, one more week.
There is an old saying that indicates that managers shouldn’t change their teams if they are winning. And with that in mind, Mourinho has done a good job to start the same unit on both matches. However, one familiar name from last season has seen both games from the bench. We are talking about Ander Herrera.
The Spanish midfielder was one of United’s best players last season, but things have changed dramatically for him this year. The arrival of Nemanja Matic and the insanely good form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan have removed him off the starting XI in the first two matches of the season. And while it seems crazy to even think about it considering the kind of player he is, Mourinho shouldn’t change. The team is working too well to start making changes. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why they are 3/10 to defeat Leicester City in their next Premier League contest.
It is easy to understand why United have worked so well this season. The presence of Matic not only gives United an imposing, physical presence in midfield – something Ander, unfortunately, struggled to give – but his impact goes deeper than that. As a defensive specialist, his presence gives far more freedom to Paul Pogba. In the first two games of the season we finally saw the Pogba that used to dazzle at Juventus. Matic limits the amount of defensive work Pogba has to do, and that gives him more freedom to roam forward as we saw in the goal against Swansea.
Having Pogba as a central midfielder also allowed clarity on the passing into the final third. And that’s where Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan have dazzled. The Armenian, in particular, looks far more comfortable in a central role, and the stats back that up. Through the first two games of the year, he already has four assists. That is quite a jump if we consider he only dished one DURING THE ENTIRE EPL SEASON last year.
Mata has not really impressed as a creative threat on the right wing. But consider United have other alternatives for that role, Herrera is not going to be the one taking his place anytime soon. After all, why would Mourinho move Mkhitaryan since he has been thriving in his new role?
If we think about it, two of United’s best players so far this season play in Ander’s role. There is no question United could use his crafty passing in the middle of the pitch. But why would Mourinho change something that is not broken in the first place? The team has been working great as it is. And having Herrera as an option off the bench only shows how deep United have become in the CM position.
Sure, Herrera deserved to start based on last season. But the trio of Matic, Pogba, and Mkhitaryan has been working far better than expected. And with United sitting at the top of the standings, now it’s not time to make changes. The Red Devils should continue to use the same squad because the results have been outstanding thus far.