Man United boss Jose Mourinho reveals why he (and not Twitter trolls) is a tactical genius
There was a theory that the Premier League’s clutch of newly appointed A-list managers would need time settle into their new posts, yet Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte head into the first international break of the new season sitting proudly at the top of the Premier League.
A hat-trick of wins for the new managers in charge at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea confirmed that their magic dust has produced instant results, yet the thrilling third weekend of the season was not only about the touchline technicians pulling the strings from their bench.
Here is your Independent.ie alternative review of the weekend’s action:
HEROES OF THE WEEKEND - Comeback kings
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Arsenal talisman Alexis Sanchez and Man City ‘flop’ Raheem Sterling were three of the biggest disappointments of last season’s Premier League, but all three appear are showing ominous signs of form under their new managers.
Hazard’s magnificent display against Burnley on Saturday included a sublime opening goal and while the Belgian appears to be back to his best at last, it does raise questions over where he disappeared to last season.
World-class footballers turn on the style every week and not when the mood takes them, but maybe Hazard is ready to confirm his A-list status once more.
The same goes for Sterling, who struggled to adapt to life as a £49m superstar at Man City after his ugly move from Liverpool last summer, but the smile was back on the face of this hard to love 21-year-old once more as he scored twice in Sunday’s 3-1 win against West Ham. Pep Guardiola’s influence at City is clearly having the desired effect.
Absolutely buzzing with the team performance today .. Happy with my 2 goals but I wouldn't have… https://t.co/SDUBs0ZwHG— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) August 28, 2016
Meanwhile, Sanchez has exploded back into form in his revised central striking role, with his display in Arsenal’s 3-1 win at Watford suggesting the Chilean could emerge as their talisman all over again after his sabbatical last season.
Gunners fans will hope his surge in form is followed by a move to sign a new contract.
VILLIAN OF THE WEEKEND - Tony Pulis
Sky Sports were in danger of breaching the trade descriptions act as they aired West Browmich Albion v Middlesbrough in a programme entitled ‘Super Sunday’, with the first part of that title clearly misplaced for what may be the most desperate Premier League game of this season.
It will come as no surprise that football killjoy Tony Pulis was involved in this unfortunate stain on the game’s reputation, with the West Brom boss doubtless riveted by a 0-0 draw that ensured his side head into the international break with four points on the board for their first three games.
This is a manager who has always put results ahead entertainment, with the ‘Pulis Ball’ his vision of the game that seems to ensure 40 points are collected each season and his annual survival bonus is secure.
55 - WBA have scored 55 goals in 58 Premier League matches under Tony Pulis (0.95 per game). Premium. pic.twitter.com/zO8JBxq79Y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 28, 2016
The trouble is, anyone unfortunate enough to watch his teams in action tend to be bored into submission very quickly, with his functional football producing a game that ended with a total of four shots on target and the 23,690 depressed souls who attended the game questioning why they didn’t just tuck into a Sunday roast at their local pub instead.
I don't support WBA but even I want Pulis out to save my eyes from watching crap like that again. #pulisout— Chris (@NN1Hayesfc) August 28, 2016
The Premier League is the most entertaining spectacle in world football…unless Pulis happens to be on the cast list.
THE TACTICAL MASTER - Jose Mourinho
Manchester United fans took to Twitter during their side’s game at Hull demand the removal of mis-firing skipper Wayne Rooney as he struggled to make an impact in the torrential rain at the KCOM Stadium.
Just get Rooney off ffs— warren dale (@Warren_MUFC) August 27, 2016
Need to be more direct second half with shots , Pogba needs to run at thier defense moreand get Rooney off for Mkhitaryan #GoForIt— OneUnited® (@jayutd1999) August 27, 2016
Yet United manager Jose Mourinho is paid the big bucks for a reason and he decided to stand by his skipper, who then produced a brilliant assist to set up Marcus Rashford’s last gasp winner in the 1-0 victory.
“I was just reading the game and feeling that playing with the two strikers, Marcus and Zlatan, I needed Mkhitaryan and Rooney just inside because the full-backs were the ones playing really wide on the touchline,” reflected Mourinho.
“I didn’t need wingers because at this moment the wingers were Valencia and Luke Shaw, so instead of wingers I needed people to play inside in that position and I know that he’s (Rooney) the guy with the vision for an assist and a feeling for the ball and that he could perfectly be important, like he was.”
Mourinho: 1 Twitter: 0
CASE FOR THE DEFENCE - Sergio Aguero
You can tell things are bad for a player when the Saintly Niall Quinn calls for a suspension to be handed out in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, but Manchester City are hopeful that their striker Sergio Aguero could escape a ban after his elbow on West Ham’s Winston Reid on Sunday.
The Manchester- derby will be without Aguero. That elbow against Reid will give him a suspension- 100%— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) August 28, 2016
Referee Andre Marriner has a clear view of the much-discussed incident and decided it was not a case of violent conduct, so if he stands by that decision when he is asked to explain his decision to by the Football Association, Aguero will avoid a ban that would rule him out of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in two weeks.
City boss Pep Guardiola accepts he may lose his star striker for the biggest game of the season so far and while the decision on Aguero’s participation in that game should come soon, United fans are already getting excited about the prospect of him watching the game from the stands:
When you read that Aguero might get retrospective punishment and miss the Derby... pic.twitter.com/cpOW8bsKAB— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) August 28, 2016
And this is why United fans will be hoping Aguero is absent when the Premier League returns in two weeks. What a record he has against City’s local foes:
INDEPENDENT.IE TEAM OF THE WEEKEND
Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Eric Bailly (Man Utd)
Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)
Luke Shaw (Man Utd)
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)
Jamie Vardy (Leicester)