The manner of Manchester United’s fast start to the season left many hoping Jose Mourinho would abandon the defensive tactics he employed last season and attempt to put Liverpool on the back foot in Saturday’s clash at Anfield.
The Red Devils had averaged three goals per game in the Premier League heading into the match, playing with a great deal of confidence, and it made for great entertainment.
But Mourinho abandoned that approach on Saturday. He set his side up to frustrate Liverpool and his plan worked, Jurgen Klopp’s side unable to find a way past David de Gea.
The hosts had 62 per cent possession and attempted 19 shots to Man United’s six.
So fans were denied what should have been an exciting derby and Klopp was left to question Mourinho’s tactics.
"I think Man United came here for the point and they got it,” the German said, per Sky Sports. “We wanted three points and didn't get it.
"I'm sure if we played like this, you could not do this at Liverpool. Obviously for Man United it is okay.”
Mourinho won’t care, of course. He’s shown throughout his career that he doesn’t care what people think of his tactics; the most important thing in his eyes is that United remain unbeaten.
Yet the Portuguese must be acutely aware that, with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City looking unstoppable right now, he can’t continue to play so defensively against the top four clubs.
Analyst's Twitter thread exploring Man Utd
A football fan on Twitter, who claims to offer “small time football analysis”, has written an interesting thread exploring the problem Mourinho has with playing Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on the wings.
In the 13-tweet thread, ‘reverse_ball’ claims Martial and Rashford are “probably best as 9s”, and thus aren’t the type of players best suited to Mourinho’s defensive system.
When Man United are under pressure, neither Martial and Rashford are completely comfortable with dropping deep.
This proves problematic when the Red Devils are able to launch a counter attack as both wingers would prefer to receive the ball in advanced positions as opposed to on the halfway line.
Check out the thread below.
Watch: Martial's highlights v Liverpool
‘reverse_ball’ certainly raises a good point. At Chelsea, Mourinho had Arjen Robben and Damien Duff to spring counter attacks from deep but Martial and Rashford are both more effective when they receive the ball closer to the opposition’s goal.
We’ll have to see whether Mourinho switches his tactics when Man United travel to Stamford Bridge on November 5.