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    How has Mourinho turned things around at United?


    How has Mourinho turned things around at United?

    After grabbing two late goals against Middlesbrough, Manchester United take their winning streak in the league to five games. They're now unbeaten in 12 games, and the good times feel like they're
    back. The New Years Eve game against 16th place 'Boro felt like a performance from a Sir Alex side, with a never say die attitude bringing them a much needed three points.
    Jose Mourinho didn’t have the luxury of time when taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson and was judged quickly. Less points than Van Gaal after ten games – almost exactly the same tally as Moyes – and it was clear the fans were not happy with the way their team was performing. New signings, like Mhkitaryan, weren’t breaking into the team, and there was no unity within the ranks out on the pitch. They weren’t playing well, and were conceding many more than they we’re scoring. So, just how has Mourinho injected life back into a team that looked lethargic and devoid of interest? Let’s take a look.


    Zlatan and his goals
    Zlatan wasn't given much time to settle on arrival either. His early performances were poor, and many began to ask if the talismanic Swede was just too old for the pace of the Premier League. He’s solidly silenced the doubters in recent months, being the standout striker at the club, notching ten goals in his last nine games. He’s also the only United player to score more than ten goals in 2016 – not bad when you consider he’s only been there since August. He’s not just bringing goals to the team, but a winning ideology as well. Ibrahimovic looks like the leader that United have so desperately needed in recent years, performing much the same role at the top of the line as Rio Ferdinand used to occupy at the back.

    Resurgence of Carrick
    Another integral part of Mourinho’s current system is that he’s got Michael Carrick back playing week in, week out. Not only providing extra cover to the previously shaky back four, but he’s also the metronome at the heart of the midfield. He’s looking to do what Scholes once did - play the killer passes and keep pushing things forward. What Carrick has done is freed up space for others the play in front of him. By tucking in and marshalling the defensive half of the midfield he allows Pogba and co to play higher up the pitch, influencing the game in ways United had struggled to in the past.


    Defensive Surprises
    When Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly were both out injured, everyone expected United to crumble. The pair started the season with a series of average to decent performances, and looked like they were beginning to gel. You may have got longer odds on Rojo and Jones forming a solid partnership than Leicester’s title win last season, but the combination seems to be working. You’d assume that Smalling will have a fight on his hands to get back into the starting eleven, such is Mourinho’s desire to stick with what is working. Both Rojo and Jones have consistently exceeded expectations of late, and you would fully expect Mourinho to stick with the team that's working. Bailly has been called up to the Ivory Coast squad for the African Nations Cup, so Mourinho will be grateful that he has so many defenders in good form to choose from. You can also never discount an addition during the January window.

    Youth
    Just recently Mourinho was covering for the fact that he “has a bad feeling” over the lack of game time for certain players, but, it’s a case of the youth performing when given the chance. Ashley Young and Memphis Depay have both been short of game time this season, with Mourinho preferring the likes of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. While Young is no slouch, Lingard and Rashford have the ability to inject serious pace in any side, and are both capable of scoring goals. Depay’s decision making was unlikely to mix well with Mourinho’s mentality, so it’s hardly a surprise that he is the one to make way. With rumours of a move to Everton swirling, don’t be surprised if you see Memphis wearing a different strip come the end of January. Morgan Schneiderlin is another player who looks to be on the way out in the January window even though he only joined the club in 2015.

    United continue their season as they travel to 12th placed West Ham for the afternoon fixture on Monday, 2nd January.  
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