Gary Neville has noted that Manchester United looked far more threatening with Anthony Martial at No.9 during their 2-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League.
The Frenchman, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out for the season and Marcus Rashford receiving a rest, was handed his first chance to feature at No.9 since January.
And he didn’t disappoint, complimenting a mazy attacking display with a wonderfully taken goal after 21 minutes and an assist for Wayne Rooney just before half time.
Neville, speaking on Sky Sports, noted that United’s potency going forward was increased by having somebody with Martial’s raw pace at the masthead of attack.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured,” he noted.
“This is what you’re going to get without him. Counter-attack through the centre forward. Rashford last week. Martial this week. Far more like Manchester United have always played.”
Perhaps Zlatan’s injury serves as a blessing in disguise: the Swede has been a superb asset under Mourinho this season, single handedly claiming results with his sheer presence at No.9, but there have been games where opponents have figured out what it takes to contain United’s attacking approach, which essentially relies on the 35-year-old as its main reference point.
With either Martial or Rashford there, on the other hand, United espouse a sense of unpredictability. Every game will now feel like a cup final, and Mourinho’s men could benefit in games against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Celta Vigo by employing a more instinctive, counterattacking approach.