Chris Smalling has expressed his delight at the way Manchester United responded to Sunday’s horror show against West Bromwich Albion with controlled display against AFC Bournemouth.
Jose Mourinho, who slated his players after the game on the weekend, made seven changes to his starting XI ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur.
And a changed side – including the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw – provided the perfect antidote to Sunday’s turgid display, moving the ball efficiently and stretching the hosts at the back, with Smalling and Romelu Lukaku claiming the goals.
Speaking after the game, Smalling noted that United produced the right response with a determined display at Bournemouth.
Smalling: “We all knew against West Brom it wasn’t good enough. Tonight you could see the lads were up for it.” #mufc [BT]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) April 18, 2018
There was a feeling of swiftness to United’s play on the South coast – the kind of precise, galvanised display you get following what would have been a nuclear reaction from Mourinho.
The last few days have been littered with reports suggesting big players will be dropped on Saturday and that, by extension, dropped from the club altogether in the summer, such was Mourinho’s fury after Sunday.
But their display here demonstrated that, at the very least, these players are still responding to their manager, and you just hope that, this time around, United can use this win as a platform for another on what is their biggest game of the season this weekend.