Manchester United came away with a battling 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium but there were questions raised on the approach adopted.
Manchester United traveled to the Riverside Stadium to face a manager-less Middlesbrough side. However, Jose Mourinho upset a large section of the fans with the team selection, with a 3-man central defence deployed by the manager.
Middlesbrough, despite being without their manager, seemed to be a potent threat for the Red Devils and in general, even seemed more ambitious than their esteemed counterparts at times. However, goals from Fellaini, Lingard and Valencia secured a 3-1 win for the away side.
We at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at some of the significant talking points to emerge from the result.
United climb up the table, FINALLY!
Well, Manchester United had the chance to move up the Premier League table once more as they went to the Riverside Stadium.
And even though, they met a Middlesbrough side out to prove their doubters wrong, with all the conjecture regarding a players’ revolt and their current precarious position on the table, the Red Devils managed to secure a 3-1 win.
The win means United finally climb up to fifth on the table and based on the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City, the Red Devils are actually just 4 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, with 2 games in hand.
Manchester United finally escape from sixth place 🙌 pic.twitter.com/r2HANzGmZB
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) March 19, 2017
Despite all the hiccups, seems like Manchester United are pretty much back in the hunt for a top four finish, which is supposed to be imperative as regards Champions League qualification for the next campaign.
A much-needed win but FAR from convincing
Manchester United may have finally climbed up the table but the approach deployed by Jose Mourinho was far from appealing to the fans. Mourinho, even in the pre-match conference, stated that a draw would be a good result and while that was chalked down as mere talk, his tactics reflected the same.
Starting with 3 central defenders against a manager-less relegation threatened side isn’t exactly the Manchester United way and the reactions of the fans on social media reflected their angst and disappointment at the tactics.
Look forward to hearing Mourinho explain how loading up on centre-backs at Middlesbrough ties in with his commitment to ‘the United way’.
— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) March 19, 2017
🎧 “Jose’s got us playing the way Utd should” 🎧
*Mourinho instructs another player to move to centre-back*
— Tom Adams (@tomEurosport) March 19, 2017
Even though United did end up winning, fans were far from pleased with the brand of football. And the Portuguese must be wary of spiting the faithful, who have all rallied behind Mourinho in fantastic fashion up until now.
Jesse ‘Magic’ Lingard
I think every Manchester United fan would agree with the fact that Jesse Lingard is United DNA. The player might not be the best player on the pitch and may not light up the stage every time but the academy graduate is capable of creating magic, often when the team needs it the most.
To sum it up, Jesse Lingard is an above average player who is capable of producing magical moments every now and then. And on Sunday, he produced another fluttering run with a brilliantly swerved effort to cap it off; one that flew into the top corner.
Jesse Lingard vs Middlesbrough:
100% take-ons completed
2 chances created
2 tackles won
1 superb goal
— Manchester United (@ManUtdUpdates_) March 19, 2017
— Abieb Aydrus (@Ravlyoi) March 19, 2017
— adidas UK (@adidasUK) March 19, 2017
Lingard has done incredibly well to carve out a place for himself in Manchester United’s first-team setup and his will to do all he can for the club is likely to see him stay at the club for the long haul; and hopefully become a huge success along with it.
Marouane Fellaini takes another step towards redemption
No matter what Marouane Fellaini does, after his debacle against Everton, the Belgian’s presence on the field is often scorned upon by Manchester United fans, with suggestions of the player not fitting the club’s footballing philosophy and accusations of him slowing the play down.
But, Fellaini seems to have readied himself on a redemption course at the club. The Belgian has been eating away at the animosity step by step. The player bossed the midfield against FC Rostov in the midweek and on Sunday, he was again brilliant, with the Belgian scoring the opener as well.
It seems Manchester United fans are slowly starting to love Fellaini and with continuous performances like these, the Beligan could expect the Red Devils faithful to rally behind him as well.
Marcus ‘Menacing’ Rashford
There is a lot of talk about his Premier League goal drought and even though, on Sunday, he failed to convert two glorious opportunities, the Englishman again showed why he is billed as the future, both immediate and otherwise, of Manchester United.
The player terrorized the Boro defence with his pace and directness and even though he did not manage to get on the scoresheet, his performance was recognised by his manager again, who praised his work ethic and footballing brand while stating that the goals are sure to come his way.
No Man Utd player has completed more take-ons in 2017 in the Premier League than Marcus Rashford (10).
Injection of pace. pic.twitter.com/guo5FJD1CK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 19, 2017
Happiness is seeing Marcus Rashford running at a defence
— Totally Man Utd™ (@TotallyMUFC) March 19, 2017
Jose Mourinho: “With his movement and pace, Rashford played phenomenal. Goals will arrive, no problem.” #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtdUpdates_) March 19, 2017
The second season is always the establishing season for a prodigious talent and by the looks of it, Rashford looks like an established lad; and an incredibly talented one at that.