Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has ordered his players to bully opponents Manchester City in the air during Saturday’s highly-anticipated Manchester derby, according to the Telegraph.
Mourinho wants his significantly taller set of players to use their stature to the team’s advantage and is confident that his side can be superior aerially against Pep Guardiola’s side.
Physical United to target smaller City players
Five players expected to start for United are over 6ft tall, and Mourinho will, therefore, invite his men to draw fouls close to goal and cause a threat from set-pieces. The Portuguese boss believes his team can cause the City goalkeeper from crosses, whether it is Willy Caballero or potential debutant Claudio Bravo in goal. That duo are just 6ft 1in and 6ft respectively, whereas the Red Devils will have 6ft 4in David de Gea starting in goal for them.
Part of that crossing game will also come from full-backs Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw, both of whom are said to be central to United’s game-plan because of the pace, energy, and delivery that they provide from wide areas.
However, it is not yet certain that both Valencia and Shaw will start the game following their international commitments. Valencia will only return from his duties with Ecuador the day before the game, whilst his English counterpart pulled out of the England squad because of an ache in the leg which he broke against PSV Eindhoven last September.
Although 6ft 1in himself, United players who are over 6ft tall more likely to start than Shaw include fellow defender Eric Bailly and midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba.
Rashford considered for selection
The tallest of all in the United ranks, however, is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has started every United game this season as a lone forward with fellow striker Anthony Martial playing on the left, and whilst that may continue on Saturday, Mourinho has been considering pairing the Swede with Marcus Rashford against City.
Mourinho believes that Rashford, who is perhaps more likely to start in a wider position than playing directly alongside Ibrahimovic, can cause City's defence serious problems with his pace.
Rashford scored the winning goal in United’s last game against Hull City before netting a hattrick for England's under-21s earlier this week.