Manchester United are preparing for the sixth round match at Southampton on Saturday afternoon. After four wins and a draw, the Reds are joint top with Manchester City. Teams are slowly settling into this new season, finding their place in the league.
Jose Mourinho and his players did very well so far, but the next test is always the most important one. The match against Southampton is no different. Manchester United will play a team recently struggling at home. The Saints have scored in just one of their last eight home games. A defence like Manchester United’s should relish to make Southampton continue their poor run.
Everyone Deserve To Play
However, Mourinho talked about his ‘headaches’ on Friday. In a pre-match press conference, the manager talked about the four attacking players which started the EFL Cup match against Burton Albion.
“When I see the match last Wednesday, the attacking players – [Anthony] Martial, [Marcus] Rashford, [Juan] Mata, [Jesse] Lingard – which one deserves to be on the bench? No one”, Mourinho insisted.
And he is right. In a comfortable 4-1 win all of them were great. Rashford scored twice, Lingard and Martial added one goal each. Mata on the other hand played a great match like a real leader of a young team. To make Mourinho’s case stronger, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku got a night off. Now they are ready to return to starting XI.
“Nobody deserves to be on the bench. But they are four, plus Lukaku and Mkhitaryan is six. I cannot play with the six”, Mourinho insisted. While the Portuguese manager is duly right, this only shows to which levels Manchester United have improved in attacking department.
A New Kind Of Luxury For Jose Mourinho
Rashford, Martial and Mkhitaryan have all improved since last season. Some of them because of their youth and inexperience, some of them getting used to the new manager. Add to that a goal-scoring striker like Lukaku and you get a powerful front end of the team.
— Stretford End (@stretford_end) September 19, 2017
That is why Mourinho should be happy with his players giving him a hard time composing the starting lineup. He has plenty of options now and has the luxury of eventual tinkering, if necessary.
Pep Guardiola does it all the time across the city with a team full of amazing attacking prospects like Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, to name only few. Now, Mourinho can do a similar thing. If a certain player has a dip in form, there are plenty of other options in the team.
Unpredictability Is Always Good
Martial is an example of that. He profited this season very much after coming from the bench and scoring goals. Opposing teams will know Manchester United have a strong bench and can produce goals at any time. Holding on for 75 minutes is not enough anymore. Man United players will not get nervous and play dull, predictable football.
These are the new times. The times where Manchester United score most of their goals in the final 10 minutes of the match. These are the times where Jose Mourinho can change things up a little bit more and make opposition guessing. Because the threat will come from any player he chooses. It is a luxury not many teams have.