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Both sides went into Sunday’s clash at the Liberty Stadium in desperate need of a win but it was the Reds who blew the Swans away in the first half.
Eyebrows were raised before kick-off as Jose Mourinho fielded an experimental, albeit experienced lineup. Players playing out of position seemed to be the prevalent theme but come the final whistle United’s manager can feel perfectly vindicated, and he had some strong words too.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed the points before half time but in truth Swansea were very poor. Nevertheless, as seems to be the norm this season there were plenty of questions raised after the game by the performance and notable absentees; here are 5 things we learned from a comfortable victory over Bob Bradley’s side.
Sunday’s result makes it 6 wins from 6 games when Michael Carrick has started this season. Jose Mourinho described the midfielder as the ‘stability’ after the game and it is certainly no coincidence that Pogba’s best games have come with Carrick anchoring the midfield behind him.
The veteran brings a composure to the side that no other member of the squad appears to be able to offer. It is perplexing why the former Spurs man has not seen more football in the Premier League but the stats speak for themselves; Carrick must start.
Perhaps a bigger talking point than the game itself was the United manager’s team selection and post match remarks. Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling in particular came in for criticism, and it is clear that Jose Mourinho is not happy with the attitude and mentality of a number of players in his squad.
Those that played on Sunday were ‘those who wanted to be there’, according to the man at the helm, and it is hard to argue against that logic with what was a comfortable and committed display.
Lots of things have gone wrong since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, and perhaps players have been too quick to take a step back and let the managers take the blame.
Mourinho, the fans and everyone associated with the club wants fighters, players prepared to give everything for the club. The winning mentality and never say die attitude that was cultivated over decades has undoubtedly faded and is in need of repair. It’s time now for strong characters and strong mentalities to propel the club forwards.
3) Mourinho’s the Man
Many have been calling in recent weeks for Jose Mourinho to return to being Jose Mourinho; on Sunday he delivered.
Confined to the stands following a typical outburst about referees, the manager didn’t hold back on letting everyone know he was still the man after the final whistle.
Some may argue that public criticism of the players should never happen, but it’s clear that private criticism has failed with many over the past few years so perhaps a change of tact was warranted.
Jose Mourinho is not averse to making enemies but that is exactly why he was the right man for the job. A strong character with strong convictions; as a player you either follow or you have no future.
4) Wayne’s Willing
Never far from the headlines, Wayne Rooney started in the Premier League for the first time in a couple of months against Swansea.
The reaction was exactly what fans would hope for; a committed and willing display even playing out of position in the wide areas.
Rooney was involved in all 3 goals and was arguably one of the Reds’ best performers on the day. Yes, he’s not the player he once was, but the captain showed on Sunday that he still has plenty to offer and his leadership on the pitch has certainly been missed.
5) Zlatan’s Still Zlatan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has undoubtedly had a bad couple of months. Chances spurned and making no real impact, many were calling for the Swede to be dropped, or at least rested.
On Sunday against the Swans, however, there were signs of the player that has won so much all over Europe.
The former PSG man linked the play beautifully and, crucially, took his chances when they came. It is hoped that Ibrahimovic will now kick on, but in that regard the yellow card and resulting suspension could not have been more ill-timed.
Arsenal are possibly the club Ibrahimovic may have relished facing the most, and possibly the side against which his role may have been most effective and he will be a big loss following the international break.