When Manchester United run out at the Estádio da Luz on Wednesday travelling supporters may well witness a very different approach from the one that dominated the weekend’s game with Liverpool. On Saturday, with the world watching one of England’s great fixtures, José Mourinho’s side sunk into its shell, hamstrung by a manager who has made a career-long reputation as the “enemy of football.” It was to United’s loss: two points dropped, momentum halted, an opposition there for the taking, given a pass.
“It’s just a match. It’s three points. When you are in a big club, when you are a big player, when you are a big manager, every game is important. Every match is a cup final.” – José Mourinho.
It is an interesting theory, one fitting with Mourinho’s detached managerial demeanour. Yet, when it comes to Liverpool versus United, the Portuguese coach could not be further off base. Mourinho’s assessment may be empirically true – Saturday’s game is worth just three points – but it is as emotionally distant as possible, and an argument with which supporters cannot relate. After all, United’s clash with Liverpool is always more than just a match. It remains England’s greatest game.
“So take a good look at my face, you see my smile looks out of place, if you look closer it’s easy to trace, the tracks of my tears.” – Smokey Robinson and the MiraclesWinning the FA Cup should have been a moment of respite for Louis van Gaal. In his final year in charge the Dutchman oversaw an unspectacular campaign at Old Trafford, serving up soporific football and little inspiration, dramatic tumbles in the presence of Mike Dean aside. Even after becoming the first United manager to lift silverware since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, all the post FA Cup chatter was about the Iron Tulip’s imminent dismissal. Indeed, Van Gaal reportedly first got wind of his firing from his wife Truss who had read about it on the BBC Sport website. The Dutchman hadn’t even left Wembley.
So, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has re-signed for United and is back to finish what he started! I can’t wait for him to return, umm by the way when is that?
Well, if reports are to be believed he’s looking to play against Tottenham Hotspur when the Londoners visit Old Trafford on 28 October. To put that into context he suffered serious ligament damage in his right knee against Anderlecht in April and usually the recovery time is nine months to a year. United’s new number 10 could be playing football six months after sustaining a potential career ending injury.