Jose Mourinho’s strong start to life at Manchester United has been quickly forgotten in the wake of galling back to back defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Feyenoord.
Man United enter this Sunday’s game with Watford in a precarious state. They may be firm favourites, but as the prospect of a third straight defeat looms, the pressure on Mourinho’s men will be gargantuan.
The re-introduction of Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia is perhaps the most important change to the side that succumbed to defeat on Thursday. Their absence highlighted just how fundamental they are to Mourinho’s system: with the likes of Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all prone to cutting in from the flanks, it is the job of Shaw and Valencia to bring energy and width, alongside maintaining rigidity at the back.
Making their first appearances of the season, Darmian and Rojo simply couldn’t carry out the lofty demands Mourinho places on his full-backs, and the side wilted as a result. The 53-year-old cannot afford for the same thing to happen on Sunday.
Ibrahimovic, withheld from the starting XI on Thursday, will reassume his place as the focal point of United’s attack. And with five goals to his name already, the Swede will be primed and ready inflict optimum damage on Watford’s back four.