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3 things we learned from Manchester United's thumping of the Champions Leicester City

Monday 26th September 2016
After two consecutive league defeats, this was finally a convincing result that lifted the mood of all Manchester United fans. A blistering first-half display ensured three points for Red Devils at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It was indeed the most beautiful 45 minutes since Sir Alex Ferguson's era. Skipper Smalling, Mata, Rashford and the multi –million summer signing Pogba were on target in the first half that left the champions totally baffled. So, here are the three things that we learned from the match -

Dropping Rooney and Fellaini actually helped



The fans have been roaring for weeks to drop out Rooney from starting XI. So, Mourinho did listen to these roars after all and kept Rooney on the bench. Fellaini was also in substitutes. Instead, Mourinho bought Herrera in midfield, Lingard on the right wing and Mata on No. 10 position.

And guess what? Implementing these paid off for United. They've had the game under reasonable control with Pogba and Herrera commanding in the mid. This allowed United more pace which they were lacking before, the midfield and attack were so slick and fluid that United fans were missing for too long. Where we saw one touch passing moves, 1-2's and numerous chances were created from open play.

Blind's versatility

Daley Blind Started at left-back in the absence of the injured Luke Shaw, and this lad delivered the man of the match performance. He provided two assists and was indirectly involved in Rashford's goal all of these coming from set pieces. Offensively he was very much involved in delivering crosses and pass exchanges. Defensively he was sound too, covering his position well. He didn't allow Mahrez much space and successfully kept him at bay.

This performance shows his flexibility. He can adapt himself to a variety of positions. We've seen him playing as a center back and left-back and CDM sometimes. So, this gives Mourinho lesser things to worry about and would relieve some of the pressure off Luke Shaw.

Pairing Pogba with right companions worked wonders

Mourinho stuck to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation. But, what he did was a few changes to the first team. Bringing in Mata, Herrera, and Lingard in place of Rooney, Fellaini and Martial respectively.

This enabled Pogba-Herrera partnership in midfield wich let them control the tempo of the game very well. Herrera sat in deep helping defense and led the built up play from own half to the attacking third.

Pogba played a much freer role a little ahead of Herrera. Roaming around the field, he was present everywhere. His perfectly timed chips over the defense line and pinpoint long balls were absolutely spot on.

That being said, what actually helped Pogba was the presence of more appropriate teammates around him. Mourinho placed Mata, Lingard, and Rashford ahead of Pogba, all of them are pacey customers to deal with. Eventually, they all combined well and set the right rhythm of play. Something that wasn't happening in earlier games. Maybe because of Fellaini and Rooney. No doubt Fellaini renders physical presence and height advantage but he can't take charge in midfield. Moreover, neither of them are zippy enough to balance the gameplay which ends up in slowing down the play.

Anyways, this was a much-needed result for Mourinho's men. And that first 45 minutes sent a message to the critics. There seemed something different about Manchester United, they were playing with some personality. But again this result should not be taken for granted as there are way too many rude awakenings to be observed in the long journey.
Zaid Pathan

A huge fan of Peter Drury's bombastic post-goal narration and an ardent football follower since his teens, Zaid believes the beautiful game is the best mode of escape from the daily hustle and bustle. He particularly loves to watch the Premier League and wants English clubs to dominate Europe again.

Life may or may not be beautiful, but football surely is.


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