Manchester United-Liverpool, en av säsongens viktigaste matcher, givetvis ska uppladdningen för den vara något extra. Därför kör vi ytterligare en Q&A inför matchen, den här gången med Dylan Arvela(@dylanarvela) reporter för Football South Coast i Australien. Han följer hängivet United från Australien och berättar här hur han ser på klubben under José Mourinho:
1. What are your thoughts on the season so far, are you satisfied with the way United has played and the amount of points you have gained?
Manchester United were predicted by most to finish in the top two this season and with nine games to go, we’re in pole position for second. There is no real shame finishing behind THIS Manchester City, but given the talent United have, we really should be making a better fist of it.
I have no doubt that if Pep Guardiola was in charge of United, we would be on top of the league. The players are good enough, I don’t think the manager is, more on that later.
On other fronts, we won a pretty poor Champions League group, so no real rewards for that. We drew 0-0 in Seville in the Round of 16 which leaves us in a pretty precarious position. In the League Cup, we went out to Bristol City which was a shock but fair play to them, they were brilliant on the day and we’re three wins from FA Cup glory which would be stellar – and something Mourinho will want to hang his hate on.
2. You signed Alexis Sanchez this January, how has he been used since he arrived?
Sanchez was an opportunistic signing and I doubt we would have bothered if City hadn’t shown an interest in him. He’s a top player, no one is doubting that but I am not convinced we needed him since we already had a number of quality young options in attack.
Eight games in, he hasn’t lit the world on fire. He’s been used mainly high on the left which blocks off an in-form Anthony Martial. In the second half against Palace, he was shifted into the middle when Mourinho went hell for leather but I don’t see him as a number 10 because if warps the formation to one which doesn’t favour other players including Pogba.
He doesn’t really have a body of work on the right and he isn’t a better option than Romelu Lukaku up top who is actually coming into a bit of form.
The Sanchez deal is one that just shouldn’t have happened because there is no obvious fit. Offering a 29-year-old a 4 and half year contract with monumental wages in bizarre, it’s as if the club is being run by a 12-year-old playing FIFA…
I haven’t even touched on Marcus Rashford exile from the starting eleven since the turn of the year. He’s only started two FA Cup games against lower league opposition and to be frank, I would rather see him playing up and down the left flank,
3. What are your thoughts on José Mourinho, do you see him as the best choice for you going forward or would you prefer a new manager for next season?
To get it out of the way, I don’t like Mourinho. On a fundamentally human level, he is a bully and I don’t want a bully in charge of the club I support.
Now, on a tactical level, I think he is outdated. His best work came nearly a decade ago with Inter Milan and I don’t think he’ll ever be able to recapture that form. His approach against a defensively poor Sevilla side highlights this – a 0-0 result away in Europe is no longer a good result because it puts immense pressure on the side in the home leg. In saying that, we were perhaps lucky to even escape with a draw.
Look at the three English sides who played away in the Champions League, all of them attacked their opponents and they all achieved immense success which sees them undoubtedly ahead in the tie.
I would love to see Mauricio Pochettino take over next season. Do I think that will happen? No chance, Mourinho will still be in charge.
4. Who has been your player of the year so far and is there anyone you expect more from?
David De Gea by a country mile, he’s an exceptional goalkeeper. In the aforementioned Sevilla match, if it wasn’t for the Spainaird we would be chasing a 2 or 3 goal deficit. He’s made a countless amount of special stops, even against Palace this week, it wasn’t his best match but if he hadn’t made that scooping stop off Christian Benteke’s header at 2-2, United wouldn’t have ended up claiming the three points. He is odds-on to win the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for the fourth time in five seasons – which is in some way indicative of a greater issue.
Jesse Lingard would be my pick of the outfielders. I thought he may have been surplus to requirements though his 13 goals and 4 assists in all comps has proved me wrong. His tactical versatility and work rate make him a valuable asset to the club, especially with Mourinho at the helm. Being an academy graduate is also a big plus.
Chris Smalling and Nemanja Matic have been a little disappointing this season, Matic more so in recent months. However, both of them picked up goals against Palace so hopefully, that kicks up their performances. I don’t think Smalling is a good enough centre back for the club Manchester United wants to be.
We need more out of Paul Pogba as well. In the last couple of games Mourinho has shifted to a formation which allows Pogba to take up wider positions on the left so hopefully, that bears fruit. The media focus on him has been pretty intense, he hasn’t been great but I don’t think he’s been that bad. The niggling injuries haven’t helped.
5. You have Swedish defender Victor Nilsson Lindelöf in your squad, what can you tell us about his first season in the Premier League?
United had been linked with Lindelof for a year prior to signing him but last season was his first full season in the Benfica first team. He was a solid performer for them, however, I wouldn’t have rated him as one of the best 3 or 4 centrebacks in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. I feel he would have benefitted from another year in the Portuguese capital.
He struggled for consistent minutes in the first half of the season but due to injuries, he has been starting fairly regularly of late. I think he’ll have a solid career with over 100 caps for the national team but I have a feeling he may end up having greater success in another European League, Serie A perhaps?
6. United played in a very defensive way at Anfield earlier this season, how do you think you will lineup and play when we face each other at Old Trafford?
The match at Anfield was the first match this season where Mourinho’s tactics were widely criticized. Rightly so in my opinion because at that stage of the season, Liverpool were a laughing stock at the back and only a week later they shipped four at Spurs.
Given United’s two-point lead over Liverpool, I expect Mourinho to try and stifle Liverpool’s in-form attacking trio – I don’t think playing at Old Trafford makes a big difference. The early kickoffs tend to be dour affairs and I am pretty confident this could end up with under 1.5 goals. An early Liverpool goal would make things interesting.