Jose Mourinho is well known for his big game tactics. The Portuguese tactician has an exemplary record in big matches – out of 46 Premier League games against Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United(as Chelsea boss) he has just lost six times, with the most recent defeat at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s City side.
Mourinho’s teams of old have all had a certain characteristic in common i.e they are able to play defensively and with high intensity throughout the ninety minutes. ‘The Special One’ often plays this way in big games and effectively nullifies the opposition, something we have seen throughout his career. Right from Porto to Chelsea and Inter Milan, Mourinho set up his teams to play defensive, reactive football.
Manchester United’s performance last night was a stark reminder of Mourinho’s tactics. With Manchester United facing an in-form Liverpool side last night, he effectively canceled out their attack with a high intensity, defensive display. Many accused Mourinho of “parking the bus” as he has done so often in the past.
United held Liverpool at bay recording only 36% possession. Jamie Carragher was vocal about Manchester United’s performance last night with the ex-Liverpool defender saying that Jose Mourinho “did a job” on Liverpool.
"That performance tonight I wouldn't expect from a Manchester United team, especially in the second half with how defensive it was," said Carragher on Monday Night Football. "But you'd expect it from a Jose Mourinho team,” he added.
"I don't think there's anyone better in world football as a manager at nullifying the opposition. But will Manchester United fans be frustrated how defensive they were second half? "No one is going to change Jose Mourinho, I think even the board and supporters will have to accept that. Tonight was a good point and they've done a job on Liverpool. This is a man with two European Cups and titles all over the world, he's going to do it his way,” the 38-year-old stated.
The ex-Red also affirmed that while it may not be pretty for the fans, the most important thing for United was to get back into contention for the league title.
"At times it will be killing games and nullifying the opposition. It may not be the Manchester United way but for Manchester United, it's more about getting back to winning trophies and challenging for the title again than how you play," he admitted.
This was the first game in 11 years between Liverpool and Manchester United that ended in a 0-0 draw.
Jose Mourinho's 'play 5 defenders, park the bus, smash and grab the 3 points' tactics are coming up.— Gau (@ConteBeBothered) 17 October 2016
I'm convinced Jose Mourinho hasn't got a clue how to play football other than 'park the bus' football....— rosey (@yacco_25) 17 October 2016
All said and done, Manchester United got the point they needed and stifled Liverpool who were the in-form side. Mourinho maintains his record against big teams and while many hail the strategy he used as a ‘tactical masterclass’, other United fans lament the type of football they witnessed as very unlike Manchester United of old.
Perhaps United fans should get accustomed to last night’s performance because as Carragher rightly says, “nobody can change Jose Mourinho.”