No Paul Pogba
Remarkably, United’s £89million club-record signing did not start either leg against Sevilla – no wonder his confidence is also shot right now.
Before his injury, the France international started this season as one of United’s most important players, with many pundits agreeing the team didn’t look the same without him in it.
Against Chelsea, Pogba also looked much improved after finally being used in his preferred role. While he may not have been fit enough to start last night, the damage was arguably already done after Mourinho ditched him in the first leg.
Pogba is far from the perfect midfielder, and he’s never likely to be the box-to-box player some would like, but he’s a fantastic creator and can, in the right set-up, lift those around him with his spark and quality, though Mourinho is yet to work out the best way of doing that – either that, or he’s simply not allowing it.
Persisting with Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez is a world class player whose time may well come at United, but this arguably was not the game for him.
Alexis Sanchez lost the ball 42 times vs Sevilla. ?
The most for an individual player in the Champions League this season. ???? pic.twitter.com/E7hl6mg5zB
— EPL Bible (@EPLBible) March 14, 2018
The Chile international has been thrust into the team since his January move from Arsenal, but it’s clear he hasn’t settled or adjusted to the side just yet.
It’s not easy to hit the ground running after moving in the middle of the season, so there’s no question Sanchez could do with a breather with many better attacking options available based on current form, which brings us onto our final point…
Reacting far too late
While there are questions to be asked about why Juan Mata in particular did not start after looking superb in recent games, it’s even more criminal just how long it took Mourinho to introduce him.
Not until the 77th minute did the Spanish playmaker get onto the pitch, with United already a goal down and losing all shape and control of the game. Just a minute later it was 2-0 and game over.
Mata put in a near-perfect display in the win over Liverpool, linking midfield and attack like few others at United can do, but he was brought on last night at a stage in the game where he could no longer realistically make a difference, whereas starting him could have made all the difference.
Anthony Martial’s introduction came at the same time and could also have been used earlier given how much Sanchez was struggling.
All in all, it was too reactive and not nearly proactive enough from Mourinho, whose future you’d imagine has to be in doubt after seismic nature of this season’s failure in Europe.