Saturday 24 February 2018

Mourinho feels the love after win in Fergie time

Manchester United 2 Middlesbrough 1

Paul Pogba celebrates his late winner at Old Trafford yesterday. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Paul Pogba celebrates his late winner at Old Trafford yesterday. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Luke Edwards

If anyone still needed to be convinced that Jose Mourinho was the right manager for Manchester United, this dramatic victory might well have been the moment the doubts disappeared.

As the crowd roared and his name filled the air, it felt like United supporters were falling in love with their Portuguese manager and he was starting to dispel that myth about him losing his magic touch.

If Mourinho is back, United are back too, back to winning ways, back to pulling off dramatic comebacks, back to winning games late and back in Champions League contention. They are surely too far behind a sensational Chelsea to mount a late title charge, but for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, a new year begins with optimism and excitement, rather than fear and foreboding.

It was United's fifth successive league win and means Mourinho's side are level on points with Tottenham, and just one behind Arsenal in fourth, albeit having played a game more than the London clubs. Chelsea may have scorched clear at the top of the table with 13 successive wins, but in the background, United have won six on the spin in all competitions and travel to West Ham tomorrow night in the highest of spirits.

The fact this victory came in such dramatic style will help gain even more momentum, as a nauseating sense of frustration was replaced by a euphoric sense of well-being.

"We managed to do something amazing, to bring the fans on to the pitch with us," said Mourinho. "We had 70,000 people with us, it was too much for a very good team who were very well organised.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

"It was phenomenal. We played so well, it was a very good way to end the year. It was Sir Alex Ferguson's birthday today and that was a fitting tribute to him. That is the way his team played and that is how I want my team to play. I'm very happy with the way we are playing, you look at us today, and we are not afraid, we are always positive."

After Middlesbrough had taken a shock second-half lead through Grant Leadbitter, United scored twice, in the 85th and the 87th minutes, through Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba. It was a stunning finale, not just because of the timing of the goals, but because United had spent the previous 85 minutes wasting even better opportunities than the ones they converted.

They dominated possession, territory and opportunities, but although Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal controversially chalked off in the first half, and both Martial and Pogba hit the post, it had appeared to be heading towards a familiar tale of what might have been for Mourinho. This time their luck changed.

The Boro manager, Aitor Karanka, had few complaints about the defeat. "I've told the players, that despite the result, their performance against a top team was really good," said Mourinho's former assistant at Real Madrid. "If we play like that, we will stay in the Premier League. We are becoming a really consistent team. We will forget the result and remember the performance."Observer

Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring his side's second goal with team mates. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester United's Paul Pogba celebrates scoring his side's second goal with team mates. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Sunday Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport