Tuesday 18 October 2016

Honours even at Anfield but United will go home happiest

While this deadlock does little for either teams respective ambitions, there is no doubt who will be the happier manager.

United have been up and down with Jose still trying to exert his own stamp on tactics and style of play but this was the most "Mourinho esque" performance of his short Old Trafford career so far. 

This was a display entirely in his image: disciplined, resolute, organised and hard-working. 

Mourinho will be criticised for "parking the bus", his crime seems to be a refusal to allow the hosts to play in a manner in which they could win but he came with a plan and carried it out to the letter. 

After all, I vividly remember Fergie adopting the exact same tactics for matches such as this and Mourinho will rightly point to the fact that we came away with a point - the first side to do so from Anfield this season - at a place plenty will leave empty handed.  

For a team still finding their feet and a formula under the Portuguese, to come away from Liverpool with a hard earned draw has to represent a good result. 

Jurgen Klopp's side have made a promising start to the season that has been built on the German's identikit: pressing opponents into submission with and without the ball, a high pressure style that has brought notable victories at Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as nine goals in two home wins against Leicester City and Hull. 

Mourinho got his team selection spot on: a powerful, strong, athletic side that he instructed to turn the tables on Liverpool's "gegenpressing" game. 
Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney were both consigned to the bench in favour of a big, physical line up designed to give us height and strength all over the pitch.  

The superb Ander Herrera was at the heart of our smothering gameplan, almost operating in the pockets of Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Coutinho in midfield- a bundle of energy as he pushed, probed and prodded, with Liverpool never given a second to breathe.

United stifled them and they simply could not find a way through.

We held our shape and discipline brilliantly, much to Mourinho's satisfaction, although we still needed those two superb saves from De Gea, and Valencia's inch perfect tackle on Firmino as he ran through on goal. 

It was classic, vintage Mourinho: a tactic he has perfected and utilised throughout his career, and Anfield's impatience and frustration would have been music to his ears.

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