Positional fluidity and youth give Manchester United a comfortable win against Burton

Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his boys after Manchester United’s comfortable 4-1 display against Burton Albion on Wednesday night.

[Anthony] Martial was good, [Jesse] Lingard was good, everybody in attacking areas gave dynamic in the team. We look happy playing this moment,” he said.

Their fourth four-goal haul made it a total of 24 in eight outings in all competitions. Marcus Rashford scored twice and terrorised Burton. The England international maintained his fine form and was the best player in Wednesday’s game.

Positional fluidity is key

Despite Mourinho’s large tinkering with the starting XI, overall there was quality everywhere. Lingard, in particular, created 3 chances and assisted one goal. His layoff for Marcus Rashford’s first goal was a brilliant example of how to use positional fluidity against low, defensive blocks. Michael Carrick floated in a pass for Jesse, who dragged away a defender and opened up a big space for Rashford to shoot.

United’s forwards were quick and fluid, often exchanging positions and playing fast combinations in the final third. Lingard and Rashford in particular found pockets of space in which to turn and receive the ball, the latter did exactly that as a powerful shot gave the home side an early 2-0 lead. The former instead often acted as a No. 10 in the hole, popping up in the left half-space.

This was largely United’s second string, so Mourinho would be pleased with their pace and how keen the deputies were to impress. The third goal derived from some excellent Martial skill as he danced with the ball outside Burton’s penalty area and tapped it to Lingard, whose shot took a heavy deflection, giving the keeper no chance.

Martial and Rashford repay Jose’s faith in them

After playing wide for most of the first half, Martial – and United in general – always seemed dangerous when going forward. He completed all 10 of his attempted take-ons and registered 4 shots on target, combining well in tight spaces with Lingard and Rashford for his goal, which was indeed deserved. The Red Devils were by far the better side and never really seemed in danger throughout the game.

Speaking of Rashford, a lot has been said about what role he should play in. The truth is that he has all the technical attributes to thrive and be a game-changer; his pace, trickery, linkup play and sharp shooting (3 out of 4 of his shots were on target) make him a dangerous player to face. So far he has played well and should enjoy some proper game time, despite the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and with Romelu Lukaku all but confirmed in the regular starting XI.

Mourinho can be happy with his team’s performance. The squad rotation hasn’t changed their ruthlessness in front of goal so far. The Portuguese will be certainly pleased if the league leaders can maintain their unbeaten record so far when they face Southampton this weekend in the Premier League.

About the Author

Charles Onwuakpa
Born in Lagos, Nigeria but living in Italy. Student, aspirant coach & football writer.