Jose Mourinho has insisted that Manchester United were always in control during their 2-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday.
The hosts made a near perfect start, shutting out Liverpool’s front three with a low block and exposing flaws in their defence by sending balls directly to Romelu Lukaku, whose strength in the air set up two goals for Marcus Rashford inside 30 minutes.
Liverpool were handed a route back into the game through Eric Bailly’s own goal, but Man United defended diligently and reduced Jurgen Klop’s side to just one shot on target in the second half.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, noted that, even without the ball, United were in complete control.
This was, above anything, a perfect example of why Mourinho is still one of the best in the business. The 55-year-old, through using a deep block, prevented Liverpool from attacking quickly through the centre during the opening stages and eventually forced them out wide, his side happy to drop deeper and deeper.
And while Liverpool had nine shots in the second half, none of them were threatening. The absence of Philipe Coutinho’s efficacy against a deep press was telling. Mourinho had coaxed Klopp into playing out wide and loading the box, adopting an attacking style they aren’t used to and one that United’s physically superior side comfortably dealt with.