Jose Mourinho has hailed Manchester United’s first half performance against Swansea City as one of the best halves of football he has seen from his side this season.
The Portuguese’s men, having been slated by their manager for an abject performance against Brighton, rampaged out of the blocks against the Welsh side, surging forward with superb tempo and execution.
It only took them five minutes to break the deadlock, with Romelu Lukaku netting his 100th Premier League goal and 26th in all competitions this season, before Alexis Sanchez crowned a determined performance with a much-needed goal.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, was full of praise for the way his players conducted themselves in the first half.
“First half I think one of the best halves we have played at Old Trafford this season,” he said.
“2-0 was very short not just in terms of chances to score but also the quality and beauty of our football. Second was different we gave them the chance they didn’t have in the first half to create something we went a little bit down.
“Maybe six of our players on the pitch were players who played international football they come back tired and late they almost don’t train.
“They let the pace and intensity go down but overall now seven games left three very important points. We want to finish in second, we have been there for the whole season and we deserve to finish there.”
This was a largely trouble free afternoon – save for a ten minute period of Swansea dominance – that saw United deliver a wonderfully fluid, purposeful, ambitious attacking performance to kill the game after just 20 minutes.
And yet, beneath the surface, you cannot help but feel an undercurrent of frustration. Mourinho uses fatigue as an excuse for why United started to wilt in the second half but this game, on reflection, was a microcosm of his side’s campaign as a whole: full of attacking promise, capable of producing some truly splendid displays going forward, only to fall short in delivering it on a regular enough basis.
Manchester City have managed to do that. And as a result they will wrap up the title with Mourinho in the opposition dugout next week.