West Brom 1 Man United 2: While Jose Mourinho has reiterated Manchester United will continue their fight for the Premier League title until the final weeks of the season, even the great master must be growing deeply envious of Manchester City’s magnificence.

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Jose Mourinho: Man United will battle to the end

West Brom 1 Man United 2: While Jose Mourinho has reiterated Manchester United will continue their fight for the Premier League title until the final weeks of the season, even the great master must be growing deeply envious of Manchester City’s magnificence.

Jose Mourinho: Man United will battle to the end

Boasting the joint-best defensive record in the division, having conceded just 12 in 18 matches, and second only to runaway leaders City in the goals scored column, this is developing into a rather strange season for United, who still trail their noisy neighbours by a mammoth 11 points.

Mourinho’s men were relentless at times in their 2-1 victory over West Brom, displaying their renowned capabilities of being able to blow teams away without seemingly breaking stride.

While ironic chants from the away end of “park the bus, park the bus, Man United” rang around The Hawthorns, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard clinically picked apart the Baggies to blow away their opponents in a nine-minute first-half blitz.

It was anything but a Mourinho masterclass in defensive resolve with the red half of Manchester seemingly incessant on not giving up the chase on Pep Guardiola’s record breakers.

The United boss, subdued in celebration of both first-half goals, has insisted his team will fight until the end to thwart City, even if their task seems increasing insurmountable week after week.

Mourinho’s preference for an even temperament may also go some way to explaining Romelu Lukaku’s muted reaction to netting the winner against the Cherries midweek.

But Lukaku’s lack of obvious joy did not surprise his manager in the context of the game: “I didn’t celebrate either. I don’t celebrate goals in a very enthusiastic way,” he said.

“I control my emotions. After that goal there is a long time to go and anything can happen in football. I’m not acting to the cameras or the fans. Romelu scores goals quite regularly.

“I know the questions keep coming in the same direction - I keep saying the same thing. The last match in the Premier League is against Watford at Old Trafford in mid-May and until then, every match we will try and win.

“If you say that question to us and to the third, the fourth, the fifth and to the sixth (placed teams), they will probably disappear. They will probably want to go on holiday. We don’t want to go on holiday. We want to win every match.”

Mourinho’s demand for resilience in United’s faltering title charge was evident in his side’s backs-to-the-wall defending in the final moments of an intriguing contest against the Baggies.

Once Gareth Barry had sparked hope of any unlikely second-half comeback, stroking home after a Chris Brunt corner had caused chaos, United were forced into desperate rearguard action to hang onto the three points.

Rather than praise his side’s defensive resolve though, Mourinho opted to pay tribute to West Brom’s endeavour and obvious danger from set pieces.

“You have to give credit to the opposition,” he added.

“We knew they could score from a set piece at any time, they are so strong in that area. They have such a big advantage in relation to the opposition.

“Without (Paul) Pogba, without (Marouane) Fellaini, without Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), three important guys in the defensive aerial game – we knew they had an advantage.

“That’s why I decided to play in the way we did. Having the ball, keeping the ball, moving the ball all the time and not having too many corners or lateral free kicks against us and we managed to do that.”

However, the one problem Mourinho does have is the battle with trying to retain high spirits and morale amongst his players while City continue their incredible winning streak.

United hold an eight-point cushion over Arsenal in fifth place, meaning the chances of missing out on a Champions League spot come what May are quickly diminishing.

Their desire and will to win is without question and if City’s title charge does begin to show signs of faltering, there is no doubt in Mourinho’s head that his side will be in the right frame of mind to capitalise.

“They are human beings,” he continued.

“Based on my personality and my experience, whenever we win we don’t go crazy - we don’t act like a circus.

“Also when we are losing or when we are in a not so happy moment, we try to not be too depressed.

“Happiness plays a big part in displaying good performances and inevitably picking up good results.”

WEST BROM (4-3-3):

Foster 6; Nyom 6, Hegazy 6, Evans 6, Gibbs 6; Livermore 6, Yacob 5 (Barry 45 7), Krychowiak 6 (Brunt 71 6); McClean 6, Rondon 6, Burke 6 (Rodriguez 64 6).

Subs:

Robson-Kanu, Myhill, McAuley, Field.

MANCHESTER UNITED(4-2-3-1):

De Gea 6; Valencia 7 (Rojo 66 6), Smalling 7, Jones 7, Young 7; Herrera 6, Matic 7; Mata 7, Lingard 7 (McTominay 86 5), Rashford 7 (Martial 79 6); Lukaku 7.

Subs:

Lindelof, Ibrahimovic, Romero, Shaw.

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