With the Manchester Derby looming in 2 weeks’ time, Mourinho and Manchester United had to reassure themselves given that next week there is an “International” football break, and despite having so many stars in the team, youngster Rashford was eventually required to seal a crucial win at the KC Stadium against Hull City. United toiled for long periods to get a break-through, and it was finally in additional time that the killer blow came from Rashford, allowing the Red Devils to heave a big sigh of relief in the process.
United dominated possession since kick-off, but a clear lack of pace going forward saw them hit a defensive wall set-up by ex-assistant manager, Mike Phelan. Pogba, clearly trying to justify his 100M price tag, had a couple of shots off target, then late on, Rooney saw his shot blocked off the line by Davies, while Zlatan was not lucky either, having rounded-up the keeper, his back-heel attempt landed outside the side-netting. United had the ball, but were clueless on how to get past the defense of the Tigers on several occasions. With rain pouring down, the pitch became more slippery for proper transmissions, and high balls as well were easily intercepted by the opposition players. 0-0 at half time, better things were expected for the second half.
However, as in the first half, Hull City were rather comfortable in defense, and Mourinho eventually sent on Mkhitaryan, then Rashford with 20 minutes left, as he went out to look for the killer goal. Rashford’s introduction brought the required pace to upset Hull’s defense, and with his techniques and pace, he was turning defenders inside-out. He went close with a low shot stopped by the keeper, before feeding a very good pass to Mkhitaryan, who took a touch too much before shooting, and the shot was blocked by a defender. Pogba then hit a shot just wide of the post as the match seemed to be edging towards a goalless draw. United themselves got a wake-up call in added time, as Meyler’s shot flew just over the bar, and may be that’s what was required. The ball got back into play, and Rooney, who had almost a miserable game, managed to get past his defender, before sliding a pass across goal. Rashford displayed his predatory instincts as he managed to held off the challenges from the defenders and stab the ball home to send Mourinho, the staff and fans into a crazy celebration. Smalling was sent on as the final substitute with Mourinho returning to his defensive instincts immediately, but Hull were clearly overpowered by that goal. United deserved the 3 points, although Hull as well showed some real character and had tormented them time and again during the game.
It would not hurt thou to see Mourinho try get at least one pacy player (a very good winger for example) before the transfer windows closes, as the absence of pace was clearly felt today, until Rashford came on and turned the tables. Keeping fingers crossed for the Manchester Derby, as Guardiola and Mourinho will meet again, and it’s surely going to be another explosive encounter between these two managers.