I wanted to call this a Mourinho masterstroke but I think he didn’t want to lose the game, he intended it to be a draw and had it not be a very lucky Xhaka goal the match could have ended 0-0.
Here are 4 reasons why I think this game is a turning point for Utd:
1. Rooney and Co
By playing Rooney in this game Mourinho has showcased to the fans how their main man has fallen, before the start of the season it would have been absolutely bonkers to even consider selling Rooney but after the Arsenal game it’s clear for all to see that the record goal scorer just does not have the ability and passion that he used to have. He missed time many tackles, didn’t have the pace to catch up with players and missed opportunities to score or assists (Mata!!). The game also proved that Smalling and Jones are just not going to cut it as centre backs at Utd (How did Wellbeck score??) and I would be very surprised if they were around next season, but he killed two birds with one stone because by playing these players it allowed Mou to..
2. Rest Key Players
Mourinho has made it abundantly clear that he views the Europa Cup as the way into the Champions League, I personally do not agree with this method, it’s too risky and one loss and it’s all over but in the league, you can survive and fight another day after a lost, also I think a lot of people are underestimating a very vibrant Ajax side who can defeat anyone on their day.
In saying all that Mourinho has set out a plan and he follows his plan to the dot, he rested Bailly, Pogba, Blind, Valencia, Lingard (sub) and Rashford (sub), these players are going to be extremely important if Utd want to win the Europa League.
But resting them also meant that…
3. Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay played
Not only did Mourinho used Academy players he also showed what a gem we have coming up the ranks, any football fan will know that Alexis Sanchez has been on form this season but Tuanzebe managed to handle the pressure so much so that Sanchez created zero chances, zero assists and no shot on target.
Mourinho allowed youngsters to play against Arsenal, not a relegated team, and that is bound to excite some fans as many were concerned that the academy players would not see the light of day.
4. Wenger IN
IF Arsenal go on to get into the Champions League because of this win you can bet that Wenger will stay, and Mourinho of all people is the one that paved the way, sometimes it’s better to have an “enemy” you know than a new enemy you do not know.
Mourinho knows how Wenger thinks and sets up his team, after all before yesterday Mourinho has never lost a game to Wenger, the last thing Mourinho or Utd needs is a resurgent Arsenal under a new manager next season.
IF Mourinho’s plan works he would have delivered two trophies to Utd in his very first season while also delivering a Champions League spot, and he would have also made his case to bring in more talented, younger, hungrier players to replace the old guard.