Manchester United cruised to the 4th Round of FA cup with a dominating 4-0 win over Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday. United started the game in a dominating way as they scored two early goals. Wayne Rooney equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s record number of goals for the Red Devils.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also scored goals which will boost their confidence. United are now on a run of eight wins on the trot in all competitions. Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the team which faced West Ham United on Monday, but there were numerous key lessons learnt from the game.
Rashford provides a different dimension to United’s attack
Mourinho started Rashford as United’s sole striker only for third time this season. The 19 year old has played majorily on the flanks. He was going through a goal scoring drought since scoring against Leicester City way back in September. Rashford’s recent performances in the wins over Middlesborough and West Ham showed that he is slowly regaining the form.
On Saturday, Rashford showed why he provides a different dimension than Zlatan Ibrahimovic in United’s attack. The Swede has been top scorer for United till now and Rashford is learning a lot from the superstar. Rashford showed against Reading that he helps in stretching the defence with his movement and pace. This helps in creating a lot of space for his teammates. United can boast about different type of attacking armoury to their disposal creating problems for the opponents.
Smalling has a good chance to stamp his authority in the starting eleven
The only negative from the game for Mourinho was the injury to Marcos Rojo. The Argentine has been in superb form and played a major role in the current ongoing winning streak. Phil Jones - another vastly improved player this season replaced Rojo early in the first half. Mourinho will be unhappy with this injury as Eric Bailly has also departed for AFCON.
This injury will give Chris Smalling a big opportunity to impress the boss. Smalling has not been able to deliver the impressive performances which he did last year. Jones and Smalling are the only first choice centrebacks available for Mourinho now.
The Portuguese is likely to stick with Smalling before giving Daley Blind and Michael Carrick a run in the centre of defence. Smalling has a golden opportunity to cement his place in the starting eleven with many games coming up in January.
Schweinsteiger can be rotated with Carrick
The future was bleak for Bastian Schweinsteiger at United in the initial stages of the season. He was told to empty his lockeroom and train with the reserve. The German didn’t move in summer window and continued to work hard in the training. He finally impressed Mourinho with his work and hence was allowed to train with the first team from November.
Schweinsteiger got some few minutes against West Ham in the League Cup due to suspensions and injury to midfielders. He was able to play the last 20 minutes against Reading as Mourinho insisted that he will be a option for his selection.
The German was tidy in possesion and slotted well ahead of defence. Michael Carrick is an important player for Mourinho, but the 35 year old surely cannot play every game at his age. With Morgan Schneiderlin on his way out, Mourinho has a great option in the German to rotate with Carrick.
Mourinho considers Fosu Mensah as a midfielder
The United boss has been praised for his man management at the club in his short tenure. He helped Henrikh Mkhitariyan to adapt the intensity of Premier League. He is also slowly bringing the best out of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. The one thing Portuguese has been criticised by the fans for providing very few opportunities to Timothy Fosu Mensah.
The 19 year old versatile player was handed his first team debut by Louis Van Gaal last season. Fosu Mensah was largely used in defence most primarily as a rightback. Antonio Valencia has made the rightback position his own while the likes of Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian ahead of Fosu Mensah in that position.
Mourinho surely rates the teenager as a midfielder as he has been coming on to gain minutes in the midfield. It is a bit testing time for Fosu Mensah, but yesterday’s cameo again showed that Mourinho is going to use him in midfield and has a long future in the centre of the park.
Martial is back to his best
There has been a lot of speculation around Anthony Martial’s future in past few months. The French forward has been struggling this year to replicate his debut season’s heroics. Martial was not able to get a proper rest and pre season which has also contributed to his dip in form. Moreover his off the pitch issues has also not helped him either.
Mourinho insisted that Martial needs time to adapt to his type of play. He suggested the young forward to avoid listening to his agent and work hard in training. Martial has responded well with his performance against Middlesbrough and against Reading yesterday. He looks more confident now as he is able to get past his defenders and goals will surely help a lot as he is slowly getting back to his best.