It’s taken several managers and a lot of bad results, but Manchester United are finally deploying two of their best players in the way that gets the best out of them.
Marouane Fellaini has had too many starts ahead of Ander Herrera, with successive managers choosing the Belgian bruiser’s size over the Basque’s speed in transition.
At last it seems that Jose Mourinho has settled on a system with Herrera deep and fellow Spaniard higher up the pitch.
The former Chelsea player knits United’s attacking play together, picking up short balls and layoffs from Ibrahimovic and United’s wide players, as well as dropping deeper to link up with Herrera or Paul Pogba.
The outstanding technical ability of these two helps United control play even when Michael Carrick isn’t in the team. Manchester United created a huge number of chances against Stoke and should have won the game. Despite the disappointing result, Jose Mourinho will be content that he has at least established a good blueprint for his midfield.