Former Manchester United midfielder Lou Macari believes Jose Mourinho will benefit from Alexis Sanchez’s presence in the Champions League knockout stages.
The Chile international arrived over the January transfer window in a straight swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way.
And he has made a promising start, claiming ‘Man of the Match’ performances against Yeovil Town and Huddersfield and scoring his first Man United goal against the latter.
Speaking soon after Sanchez’s display at Old Trafford, Macari noted that Sanchez could play an important role in the Champions League.
“What he does for us is add competition for places, which any manager would tell you is fantastic,” he said. “It sorts of livens up one or two others, and in our case it gives us a better chance in Europe.”
“There wouldn’t be many United supporters before saying there’s an outstanding chance of us winning the Champions League, but when you sign somebody like him it can be the turning point in your season in the biggest competition there is.
“Let’s be honest, the team was doing alright before we signed him but we needed a little bit of an injection of something and he just may be that something that we needed. Even for the money, I know they say about his wages and all that but the fee was minor compared to the fees nowadays.
“So I think it was a good deal and he can give you a little bit more of an opportunity to go further in the Champions League.”
Mourinho has always been a man who flourishes in games for which there can be plenty of planning, scrutinising, fine-tuning, and preparing.
The Champions League is this sort of stage, especially in the knockout phases: clashes dominated by mini-tactical battles all over the pitch, both sides waiting for the opponent to give them an inch, a sniff of weakness, just a yard of space
And Sanchez has always been a player capable of taking full advantage of that. He can bring United forward in one bursting movement and be in behind a defence moments after they’ve lost the ball. Above anything, he is a ruthless attacking presence, hellbent on breaking the will of defenders and adept at doing so even in the cagiest of encounters.
United certainly aren’t candidates to win the competition, but with cylinders firing and Sanchez waiting in the wings, they could make a bigger impact than some expect.