There is an side to the Manchester United managers uncompromising approach Because he Put up his team to Put on down Tottenham and Dismissed criticism
And afterward, naturally, the sun also rises. On a boisterous, slightly wild day at Old Trafford, Manchester United made a functionality and a consequence that embodied the flip side, the best facet of the defensively voracious Jos Mourinho team.
Such are the tribal oppositions of football that a 1-0 home win against a Tottenham team lacking Harry Kane is unlikely to be regarded as a wider vindication of the strangling organisation that currently defines Mourinho’s strategy. The failure to press Liverpool’s flighty defence at Anfield two weeks past will still offer a note of frustration.
But credit must be given for physical strength and times not . Most of all there was proof here in a furious second half of the way to winning games this strategy can create its own kind of beauty that is rugged. In the final whistle the amusingly petulant shushing finger in the nearest TV camera were directed and turned by Mourinho. Are you not entertained?
Not that Mourinho was likely to modify his strategy here. He’s often described as a pragmatist. Actually he’s nothing of the kind, but is instead a dogmatist, a defensive tactician of principle — not or if you like those fundamentals.
The pragmatist would have assaulted against Liverpool. The pragmatist come out swinging in the game and would have softened under the pressure. The idealist remains true to himself, discovers an ever greater devotion to the cause of strangulating Mourinho-ism, deeper gears. Principles do come in colours that are shiny.
But then team defence looked the best strategy here. Tottenham have been powerful on the rest in weeks. Pace is offered by Son Heung-min in behind at centre-forward, but little else. This was a moment to stay true to the instincts of Mourinho, wait to blink and to create a stifling first half.
And they did. For long periods during that 45 minutes the ball changed hands with a staccato rhythm: long pass, chest down, poor controlpass, headed back, filthy, 50-50.
At one point Eric Dier let the ball bounce twice, paused, watched just shirts massed in front of him, and hoofed the ball. Both groups locked arms and breathed. Christian Eriksen made a wonderful small dribble, beating three guys 40 yards. No matter, however. There were three more behind.
After which matters did loosen up. Nemanja Matic began to hound Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks, playing with actual controlled aggression and finally forcing a change as Mousa Dembl substituted Sissoko. With an hour gone and the rain swirling in each direction, including upward, United began to attack with some fury; such fury that they finally had a shot from open play on goal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan breaking positions to take low and hard but near Hugo Lloris.
A relax was of stress on the Spurs side since the game reached a pitch. The goal came finish to finish, but it was a portion of what went like a haymaker hurled through a exhausting heavyweight’s protector. David de Gea punted long. Toby Alderweireld was lost by Romelu Lukaku and flicked on to Anthony Martial. Then tuck the ball inside the far post and he found the space to swivel his hips.
Old Trafford erupted. Jones beat his chest. Mourinho stalked his touchline, stooping to perform a somewhat vicious looking bash, like a man puncturing an atmosphere bed. And there was a real, brutal kind of beauty about the force of will, the intense and unrelenting team drama that had dragged this moment of slackness out of an rugged Spurs defence.
In the conclusion of which United’s greatest players were equally Mourinho players, both brought to the club this summer, both a part of the new-look spine. Matic has been the dominant figure on the pitch, snapping into his tackles, finding pockets of calm in the fury and growing in spidery jurisdiction throughout. Facing him Lukaku extended his goalless run shirt to 293 minutes but still played with certainty, moving across front with actual purpose.
Tottenham will feel. Dele Alli must have transformed a chance just before the goal that might have skewed the story another way of United. Bur he did not. Kane might have been present, a participant who really does change the team of Mauricio Pochettino. But he was not. Mourinho’s system does this as it functions, reducing the match to a set of particulars that are manageable, winnable, and glancing in a Spurs team that conducted itself by the end.
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