Manchester United will be taking on Young Boys on Wednesday night, to kick off their UEFA Champions League campaign this year. The Swiss side is possibly the weakest rival Jose Mourinho can get this season, and naturally he would love to kick it off in style.
In order to begin the campaign with an emphatic victory, Mourinho has a lot of decisions to make. One of those crucial choices is going to be that of the left-back position. During the first few weeks, Luke Shaw was handed the responsibilities and he did a great job. The young Englishman even continued the good form in national colours, and produced a fabulous performance in the international friendly against Spain last week. However, during that match, Shaw got a concussion and hence had to be dropped against Watford.
In Shaw’s absence, veteran United player Ashley Young got the nod. To the joy of the traveling fans, he played beautifully in the match and had useful contributions in both Manchester goals. However, against Young Boys, the gaffer is going ahead with the youngster. After the Watford game, Mourinho commented, “Luke Shaw plays Wednesday. We can’t do it with one left-back and Ashley Young is not just a left-back, is also a right-back, they both are doing well and they both are different players.
“And I think both understand one is a young player and the other one is the experienced one and is good for us to have these two options and [Matteo] Darmian is my emergency man, is always ready for everything, so we are fine.”
This brings into question whether Young will actually be slotted in right back or whether Darmian will be the man. It is almost certain that Antonio Valencia, the first choice right back for the side, will get some rest as the boss will want him to be fit and agile for the weekend’s Premier League fixture against another surprise package of the season, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho is happy with the team’s performance on Saturday. Especially, the fact that set-pieces led to both goals made him happy. First, it was a movement from Young and Marouane Fellaini that led to Lukaku’s easy tap-in. And then, a Young corner was headed down by Fellaini which was eventually converted by Chris Smalling.
“Because we trained the corner during the week, the best thing that can happen to coaches is you train and you see it happen in the match,” Mourinho remarked after the match. “And they are happening even in these last few matches, even in the one against Tottenham, are happening things that are working, the positional, the movement.
“But the set-pieces are very specific things that you work, you work, you work and for weeks and weeks and weeks sometimes you don’t see the results of that work. So when it happens was happiness for coaching staff.”
It seems the corners and freekicks are going to be instrumental in Mourinho’s strategies this season, and it will be fascinating to see if they rely on similar stuff in the European extravaganza as well.