Jose Mourinho praised Rafa Benitez in the build up to Saturday’s game and continued afterwards.
The Man Utd boss saying ‘We didn’t start well but I don’t blame my players – I blame Benitez in a positive sense’.
Jose Mourinho summing up the Newcastle boss and team in the first half hour: ‘Very experienced, very intelligent, the team was very well organised, they started very well and created us problems’.
He does though describe Dwight Gayle’s goal as a ‘wake up call’ in the 14th minute, even though it took another 20 minutes for Manchester United to get a proper grip on the game.
Rather than a game of two halves, I suppose you could call it a game of one half hour and one full hour, sadly Newcastle fading ever further the longer the game went on.
“The result, the three points, the performance after the Newcastle goal, that mentality to react without panic in a positive way, and obviously the return of injured players is nice – especially in Zlatan’s case; such a dramatic injury, and to see him back is a great emotion.
“It was a joy for everyone but for all of us that stayed close to such a professional with one of the biggest injuries in football, it was more than that; it was a big emotion to see that for the big guy.”
On Paul Pogba:
“He was different class. He looked like he wasn’t out for such a long time without playing football. At the beginning of the season we had Paul and Matic growing up together and being like the engine of the team. We lost a little bit of that; other players are good players but they have different qualities, so it was good. I left it in Paul’s hands how many minutes to play until he had just the first feeling of fatigue, so we made that decision at a good time and I think it was a great performance by him.”
“He affects our football. With him we have much more creation. I am so happy, so let’s see the decision for Wednesday. The best thing for him may be to play again, but the best decision may be to rest him because he is a player we need to protect.”
“We didn’t start well but I don’t blame my players – I blame Benitez in a positive sense.
“Very experienced, very intelligent, the team was very well organised, they started very well and created us problems; we couldn’t play and at the same time they were creating problems in our defensive areas. But the goal was a wake-up call.
“The team reacted very well and very strong. The goal in the first half was very important because it took away from us the pressure of being behind and playing at home. “
On the second half:
“The second half was ours: we had control, we had goals, we had beautiful actions. The team was flying, the team was free and confident.
“We had lots of bodies in attacking areas, we were dominating the game and the players from the midfield were not afraid to arrive in the finishing positions because the game was under control. That’s why honestly I was really enjoying the quality.”
On Rashford and Martial:
“They both like to play in the same position and that is difficult. They both prefer to play on the left than on the right. When both play with another striker through the middle, we lose a point of contact with a midfielder that we are used to, with a player playing behind the striker. But when we started finding them both on the left, between the striker and the winger, was the moment in the first half when we started creating more.
“In the first half, we felt a little bit unstable in our defensive areas and that was clearly not because of the defensive players, but because of our balance. So to play them together gives us things but also takes some things away.”
On Romelu Lukaku:
“He is a striker and strikers like to score goals. It is not a problem for me if he works like he does and he doesn’t score goals but, for the self-confidence, strikers love to score goals.
“He was not doing that for us for a few matches and I know that can affect strikers’ confidence, so I was really happy that he scored that goal.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1
Newcastle United: Gayle 14
Manchester United: Martial 37 Smalling 45+1, Pogba 54, Lukaku 70
Possession was Man Utd 65% Newcastle 35%
Total shots were Man Utd 16 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Man Utd 7 Newcastle 5
Corners were Man Utd 11 Newcastle 4
Referee: Craig Pawson
Elliot, Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie (Aarons 66), Shelvey, Hayden, Murphy, Joselu (Mitrovic 71), Gayle (Diame 77)
Darlow, Gamez, Perez, Mbemba
Crowd: 75,035 (Newcastle 3,100)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)