Phil Neville believes that Manchester United are 100 per cent going in the right direction under Jose Mourinho.
The 54-year-old has attracted praise from players, pundits and supporters for implementing a considerably improved style and mentality at Old Trafford this season.
Defeat to Hull City in the League Cup on Thursday put an end to Man United’s 17-game unbeaten run, but Paul Pogba‘s 66th minute goal ensured that Mourinho’s men reached the final at Wembley next month.
And Neville, speaking after the 2-1 defeat, noted that United were moving in the right direction under the Special One.
“They’ve got an unbelievable fixture list coming up, playing every two or three days, so how they handle that will determine whether they finish the season really strongly,” he said.
“I think the league is a little bit too much, so you look at getting in the Champions League through either finishing in the top four or winning the Europa League. United can more than do that.
“They’ve got to start by winning the first major trophy in February against Southampton. When you watch United now they are 100 per cent going in the right direction. They are playing with a better style, they are playing with more confidence and they’ve got determination about them.
“They’ve lost tonight, but qualified for a major final and those players didn’t really celebrate at the end of the game. That shows how far they’ve come. The standard has been risen at that football club back to where it should be.”
If you looked at the body language of both Mourinho and his players at full-time, you wouldn’t think that they’d just booked their place at Wembley. This, surely, was a moment to celebrate: months of hard work, an unforgiving Premier League campaign, widespread scrutiny from the watching world, but finally something to illustrate United’s progress under Mourinho.
But the reaction was muted, with Michael Carrick and Mourinho both giving brief, largely scripted and definitely laborious interviews at full time. You could tell that the pair were somewhat in sync: neither interested in offering post-match platitudes, but instead fully focused on analysing the past 90 minutes and looking ahead to Sunday.