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Five points on United - with Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail

Posted on 27 October 2017  - 14:30

Ian Ladyman, Football Editor at the Daily Mail, knows the Manchester clubs inside-out, so who better to turn to for an insight into the Red half of th city ahead of an intriguing Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Saturday?

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ian_ladymanIan Ladyman
Football Editor, Daily Mail

Point 1 - form

Ian: “Last season was all about United getting into the Champions League and re-establishing themselves after David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. It was fundamentally important for United to get back to a level where people respected them again and Jose Mourinho was perfect for that. This season expectations are higher. They need to be seen as a significant team in the Premier League again and that’s what they are doing. They’ve played better football than people would have thought. They haven’t been great in the last couple of weeks but up to the international break they were scoring goals and beating teams easily at home, playing good football, putting teams away. On the whole, if you were a United fan, you’d be more than satisfied. There are never shades of grey at United, it’s always black or white, so the fact they didn’t win at Anfield and then lost at Huddersfield has tipped the scales from everything being fine to everything being a crisis. The truth is probably somewhere in-between, but if you’d have told United fans at this stage of the season they’ve be top of their Champions League group and second in the Premier Leaugue, scoring plenty of goals with new signings settling in, I’m sure they’d be more than happy.”

Below: Jose Mourinho

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Point 2 - the Mourinho effect

Ian: “They’ve got the guy they hired, basically. They’ve gone the Moyes way, the long-term, British way and it didn’t work. They tried to patch that up with an experienced coach in Van Gaal, that didn’t work, so they were at a point where they had to make an appointment that was going to get the ship moving in the other direction, and he’s the guy that has made that happen. That has been the Mourinho effect.”

Point 3 - tactics

Ian: “Jose Mourinho likes 4-2-3-1, that’s what he does. His first thought is not to concede goals and that will certainly be the case against a team like Spurs, not to concede goals and to always be in the game. Everyone saw what happened with Liverpool agaimst Spurs at Wembley, they were in the game for about three minutes! United will always be in the game, whoever they play. That is Mourinho’s first thought, making sure they are not easy to beat and go from there. That’s how they’ll play, home or away.”

Below: Romelu Lukaku

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Point 4 - key man

Ian: “The goalkeeper, David de Gea. I know that sounds strangewhen you are talking about Manchester United, but that has been the case. He has been their best player for five years, without a doubt. He will win the team 10, 12 points every season. They also have a proper centre forward in Romelu Lukaku, he gives them a focal point. So you look at the back end and top end of the pitch, both very important.”

Below: Dele Alli fires home against Liverpool last weekend

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Point 5 - Spurs

Ian: “They’ve been brilliant. Spurs are my favourite team to watch, certainly last season and probably the year before as well. That’s not just for the very attractive football they play, but they are also impressive physically, a team of real athletes, a modern football team. No-one is going to knock Tottenham around physically and not many will outplay them either. I love the way Mauricio Pochettino has kept things going on the back of the end of the 2015-16 season. It’s not just Harry Kane and Dele Alli but the central defenders are terrific, a great goalkeeper and there is a great attitude in the team. They don’t get involved in any nonsense, don’t say stupid things, don’t do stupid things, they just go about doing what they do best."