Former Leeds United right-back Danny Mills believes that Jose Mourinho‘s changes have given rise to an improvement in performances at Manchester United.
The Portuguese endured a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, clocking up an unfavourable number of touchline bans and draws at home, leaving his side nine points off fourth spot by early December.
However, following a resurgence over the Christmas period, Mourinho’s men are now just one point away from the Champions League places and two points off second spot.
And Mills, speaking earlier this week, noted that the 54-year-old has made a number of crucial changes over the last few months.
“It’s interesting looking at the stats comparing Mourinho and Conte,” he said.
“Early part of the season, Mourinho’s side were attacking and scoring goals for fun – then they got beat heavily. Then they changed and went ultra defensive for the rest of the season.
“It was basically all 1-0 wins, which is what the good teams do.
“I think Mourinho’s side might be more defensive than Conte’s by the end of the year.”
The changes made by Mourinho in recent times have been subtle but crucial. His approach contrasts with that of Louis van Gaal, who arrived at the club and wasted no time when it came to imposing his methods on a heavily confidence-strapped team.
Man United’s first game of the season, after all, saw a brand new 3-5-2 set-up, with Jesse Lingard making his debut at right-wing back. Watching from the stands, you could tell that everybody was confused: the crowd, the players, the media, and probably some of the managerial staff as well.
Under Mourinho, however, the changes have been presided over with great care: Rooney being eased out of the starting XI; the midfield trio of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick; giving Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo a run of games; his treatment of both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial. These have all been vital changes, occurring over time, demonstrating that the Portuguese’s esteemed pragmatism remains very much in tact.