After a bruising few weeks for Man United’s Jose Mourinho, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the former Premier League masters might not be up to much this season, despite some landmark signings.
Not so, according to today’s formidable 4-1 victory against current champions, Leicester.
What a difference a day makes (well, three to be precise), when a curt Mr Mourinho refused to speak to the press after a 3-1 win against Northampton, stating he was not “contractually bound” to do so. Perhaps he was still reeling from a series of let-downs since the football season began this summer, the latest of which saw Walter Mazzarri’s Watford defeat the reds in a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road.
Disappointment and frustration were put firmly to one side in this afternoon’s clash at Old Trafford, where a decidedly more comfortable Man U created a stunning first-half thriller, leaving Leicester trailing 4-0 at half time.
The Twittersphere had been alert to the fact that captain Wayne Rooney had been left out of the starting line up, with many celebrating the news as a fresh chance for a team which has often appeared tetchy and lacklustre of late.
The buzz started at 22 minutes, when Chris Smalling’s header made its way into the bottom left corner off an assisted cross from Daley Blind – with a shabby Leicester defence looking on.
Marcus Rashford missed another golden opportunity from a superb run by Ibrahimovic on the left wing minutes later, with Ibrahimovic’s own miss following that when his well-controlled volley off the chest flew just wide of the mark over the top of a crossbar manned by 27-year-old Ron-Robert Zieler.
Ah so this is what happens when Rooney doesn't play!! #MULEI— Kate Farrell (@audit_cat) September 24, 2016
Mourinho’s starting eleven didn’t have long to wait before Juan Mata’s sweeping shot sent the ball flying into the right-hand corner at 36 minutes.
Two more followed from Marcus Rashford’s top-right smash and a Paul Pogba header – and the clock hadn’t even hit 42 minutes.
Not even Demarai Gray’s superb strike into the top-right corner at 59 minutes could spark a Leicester comeback, and despite a more muted second half at Old Trafford, Mourinho may have silenced his critics for the time being.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference on Friday, the former Chelsea manager joked he is now the “Worst One” rather than the “Special One” as football’s “Einsteins” scrutinised his side who were desperate to avoid a third Premier League defeat.
They did that all right. Now let’s see if Mourinho can keep the Einsteins quiet for the rest of the season…