Wednesday 25 October 2017

Lingard at the double as United spurred on by Jose's words

It may have been "only" Swansea and "only" the Carabao Cup, but Tuesday night's win in South Wales was an important one in the context of our season.Ahead of Saturday's vital home match against high-flying Spurs, we were in desperate need of firstly a result and secondly, a strong performance.

Against Paul Clement's side, Jose got both. Our next away match is the small matter of the trip to Stamford Bridge, so tougher tests certainly await. But this was the first hurdle that we had to clear to get our slightly faltering season back on track and we did just that. 

Having rightly ripped into his players after the abject Huddersfield horror show, in which Jose criticised our attitude, the team responded with a professional, clinical and comfortable win. This was Mourinho's 400th game in English football as a manager and he said the team's  application and concentration, like the result, was much improved from the weekend.

"Our attitude was very good, I am happy. We were solid, comfortable, we were in control.
"We were solid and professional from the first minute and I am pleased with the performance of the team and individuals." United's desire, commitment and passion deserted them for the 90 minutes on Saturday, but, to paraphrase a certain former Liverpool manager, we showed great character in victory. 

Unsurprisingly, there were seven changes in a youthful and rejigged line-up, and Jose's barbed words certainly seemed to have the desired effect for the rotated Reds. Three of the players involved at the John Smith's Stadium - Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial - set the pace for a vibrant and energetic United start.

Lingard's two goals were well taken and superbly crafted, with the second one in particular a classic United strike. Young defender Axel Tuanzebe began the play, which culminated in a rare Lingard header beyond Kristoffer Nordfeldt after a sweeping team move.

This was, at time, a glimpse of the free-flowing and clinical United that we saw before the untimely international break that checked our momentum.  Watford striker Troy Deeney blasted Arsenal's lack of "cojones" after their recent defeat at Vicarage Road and the Gunners have hit back strongly with three successive wins since. 

As United fans, we have to hope that Mourinho's outburst will have a similar impact on our players following the early season blip. Every team has a setback, we had to get the Huddersfield defeat out of the system and go into Spurs with a win under our belts.  We did so, but a positive riposte in the League Cup at Swansea is one thing - a repeat performance against two of the league's high flyers is quite another. 

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