Mourinho’s starting line-up cocked eyebrows, with Ibrahimovic sitting on the bench and Anthony Martial no place to be seen, but the final result and the way United triumph shows exactly how splendidly he had set up his group.
The early strike from Marcus Rashford gave United the momentum they wanted and the a deflected effort form Ander Herrera made the difference between the teams on Sunday, as the gap between Chelsea and Pochettino’s men at second place remains at four points with sis games to play.
The genius masterstroke in any case was his choice to deploy Ander Herrera as Hazard’s shadow all through. The Belgian was completely snuffed out by Herrera who secured everything he might do and constrain him to the edges on a hopeless evening for Chelsea.
There was additional pressure on United and Mourinho due to their poor track record at Old Trafford. He required this execution, the best he delivered so far as United manager, not only to keep in contact with the top four but also to show how he can out-tactics a dynamic manager like Conte.
“A special performance because it was a special opponent,” Mourinho later said. “The leader. We played well. We gave them problems… so these three points are phenomenal.” They were, to be fair.
Manchester United stretches their unbeaten run to 22 matches the longest in Europe’s top five leagues with the Portuguese adding“Normally you win the title if you are 22 matches unbeaten and we are struggling to finish in the top four.” But this was the performance of Champions.