English Premiership

Parking the bus - the Mourinho way!

2016-10-19 10:42
Jose Mourinho (Getty Images)

Cape Town - It certainly was billed as the standout fixture of the English Premiership weekend, but the match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

With Jose Mourinho in charge of United for the first time in a match involving the two English football giants, one knew beforehand that the wily Red Devil’s manager would go all out to spoil Liverpool’s party, much like he had done two seasons back with Chelsea, effectively costing Liverpool the league title. 

A win for the red half of Merseyside would see them shoot to the top of the Premiership table and would be a massive statement from Jurgen Klopp’s team to the rest of the league.

But it was not to be.

United started out the far better side and dare one say it, dominated the first 20 minutes as Liverpool were beaten at their own pressing game.

Time and time again, Liverpool’s most influential players this season, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho either were harried when on the ball, or received poor service from the Liverpool midfield.

Striker Daniel Sturridge, starting for the first time in a while, cut a forlorn figure up front for the Reds.

The home side came more into it as the half wore on but United carried on biting at their heels, so much so that the 14 fouls they conceded in the half were more than the average (12) they have conceded in full matches so far this season.

The only strike on target for the whole of the first half was a weak Firmino header that David de Gea in the United goal easily saved. 

One suspected that Liverpool might improve after the break and with the introduction of Adam Lallana in the 55th minute they certainly did.

As Liverpool began to dominate, it was De Gea who again proved what an asset he is in the United goal.

The Spanish keeper first pulled off a low, one-handed save to his right after Emre Can had cleverly worked his way into the box. He then produced one of the saves of the season as he flew to his left to claw out a Coutinho special which was sailing into the top left-hand corner.

The second save was so stunning that even Klopp applauded the effort. 

All the while Mourinho sat smugly on the sideline, content that his side now sat deep and defended, sometimes with six players forming a last line of defence.

The famous Mourinho bus had settled in for the night.

And he got the point he so desperately wanted but one would question the way United played after their earlier dominance.

Mourinho will point towards a congested fixture list that sees them play Fenerbahce in the Europa League, Chelsea in the English Premiership and Manchester City in the League Cup in the space of five days.

Surely the chance to get bragging rights in his first match in charge of United against Liverpool would have been something to aim for?

Not Mourinho, who afterward in his blunt style was critical of Liverpool not winning, more than his charges style of play.

“How many shots on target did Liverpool have on target today? Two. Two shots on target with 65 percent of possession.

"You have to be critical of Liverpool. It is their problem, not our problem,” said Mourinho.

Mourinho failed to mention that United only registered one shot on target while never really threatening the Liverpool goal for large portions of the game.

Nevertheless, the English press will continue to portray Mourinho as a tactical genius, even though the teams he manages play cold, calculating football.

But is this the football Manchester United fans really want to see from their team?

For supporters used to coming to Anfield and regularly celebrating victory over the past decade, it must be difficult to watch Mourinho’s team go about their business.

And I wonder what Sir Alex Ferguson watching on from the Anfield stands thought of it all?

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Middlesbrough v Hull City, Riverside Stadium 22:00
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Watford v Everton, Vicarage Road Stadium 14:30
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