Jose Mourinho explains why he played Marouane Fellaini against Liverpool

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has explained why he sent on Marouane Fellaini during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League, noting that the Belgian’s physical influence would be useful during the latter stages of the encounter.

Fellaini, with his side trailing, came after 76 minutes as Mourinho’s men begun to throw bodies forward against a tiring Liverpool side.

And the Belgian quickly made his presence felt, hitting the woodwork with a header before Antonio Valencia squared the ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who duly headed home with six minutes to go.

Mourinho, speaking after the game, claimed that he opted for Fellaini over Marcus Rashford in order to pose a greater physical approach during the last 15 minutes.

“I had Rashford to play, it was between Rashford and Marouane,” he said. 

“I felt Liverpool were playing really defensive so I looked to the bench. I decided to go with Marouane and Zlatan to put pressure on the Liverpool defence.”

Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all struggled to deal with Liverpool’s immense pressing game away from home this season, and Klopp’s side remain unbeaten on the road against the top six as a result.

And with Liverpool employing a diamond at Old Trafford, the home side struggled to pass their way through midfield, with the likes of Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson furiously pressing Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick all afternoon, which in turn cut off the supply line to both Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

But Mourinho managed to address the malaise: with 15 minutes to go, against a Liverpool side beginning to tire, the 53-year-old sent on Fellaini and encouraged his side to opt for a more direct, physical approach. Needless to say, the plan worked, and Liverpool’s defensive frontier finally collapsed under the combined weight of Zlatan and Fellaini with six minutes left on the clock.

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