Jose Mourinho responded perfectly to his critics to Saturday.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ won a tactical duel with Mauricio Pochettino as Man United beat Spurs 1-0 at Old Trafford.
Anthony Martial grabbed the winner in the 81st minute after being introduced in place of Marcus Rashford as a substitute by Mourinho with twenty minutes of normal time left.
There were some boos from the Old Trafford crowd at the decision to remove fan favourite Rashford, who appeared the most ambitious of the hosts’ attacking players.
However, Mourinho’s decision was justified when Romelu Lukaku headed a goal-kick into the path of Martial for the decisive goal.
After the game Mourinho spoke to MUTV and brought up the crowd’s reaction without a prompt.
“I would like the supporters to explain to me why they don’t support him [Lukaku] so much because he gives everything and I think it is not fair when scoring the goal or not scoring the goal makes the whole difference.
“I don’t think it is fair at all. So I’m a bit disappointed – but not with him. With him very pleased.”
“Today there were two strikers playing together against three top central defenders – the best we have in Europe – and they had to do the defensive job of pressing them when they were coming out with the ball which they do very well because they have big routines of playing with three in the back.”
It seems Mourinho interpreted the crowd’s displeasure at Rashford’s removal as criticism of the decision to leave Lukaku on the pitch.
Perhaps it was clear in Mourinho’s mind that Rashford and Lukaku were the only two options to be removed for Martial when some fans may have liked all three forwards on the pitch in the game’s final moments.
Lukaku has started his United career brightly and has already reached double figures in terms of goals this season.
Generally, he has been warmly welcomed by the fans, as evidenced by the now infamous penis chant.
Mourinho may have simply misread the crowd’s reaction.
A few comments won’t take the gloss off a vital win in what could turn out to be one of the season’s key fixtures.