Watford secured their second win of the season in spectacular fashion as the Hornets beat Manchester United 3-1 at the Vicarage Road on Sunday, 19th September 2016. The game was particularly interesting for it was another occasion when Jose Mourinho went head to head with somebody whom he has maligned in the past in Walter Mazzarri. The Italian was demeaned by the current United manager when he was the boss of Napoli and the Portuguese was at the charge of Inter Milan.
Mourinho branded his counterpart as a hardworking donkey who will never be able to become a through breed. Mazzarri claims to have put those comments behind him and the feud with Mourinho by saying he has a good relationship with the manager but he will be particularly satisfied by getting one over his counterpart at Vicarage Road. With the visitors being particularly poor, let’s take a look at some things we learned from the game.
Mazzarri has now greater tactical provision with his new signings
Walter Mazzarri must be delighted with the scope of tactical flexibility he has now with his group of players at the club. The incoming transfers have increased this even further. After the first four games, it now looks like the players are responding better to his tactics. The arrival of Pereyra has really made an impact in the midfield and now with the availability of players like Holebas, Janmaat, Cathcart, Amrabat and Zuniga; Mazzarri has a great opportunity to employ wingbacks, which are the cornerstones of his 3 man defence system.
The availability of options is so great that the Italian has used Zuniga as a midfielder when he substituted Etienne Capoue. Zuniga scored a great goal in the game and reflected the advantages of how a manager can utilise a player in a different role suited to his attributes when he has lots of options available to him.
It Is The Premier League and Not The Serie A Or Ligue 1
Just as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba are finding out now, the Premier League is a completely different beast to tame. Zlatan Ibrahimović banged in goals for fun in the French League against all oppositions but here after making a good start he has been very poor in the last 3 league games even if he did score a goal against Manchester City which was a mere gift.
Ibrahimović’s lack of pace is beginning to show and against strong defenders he has been found out so far not being able to play anywhere near the image which he has created over the years. Having missed a sitter against Watford, the striker was pretty poor all game having just a single shot on target, a header in the second half, which was saved by Gomes.
The world’s most expensive transfer signing Paul Pogba is another one who has been exposed far too often by the pace and intensity of the English League. During his first spell at Old Trafford, the Frenchman remained anonymous and only shot to fame when he moved to Juventus. In a league where he was afforded ridiculously high time and space on the ball, Pogba looked like a very good player but never a great one which the media and his agent portrayed.
I personally never liked the fact that Pogba took too much time on the ball and allowed himself to get into a bad situation often in the Serie A. The poor quality of opposition as well as the comparatively higher quality of defensive cover at Juventus bailed him out every time that happened but not anymore. When he was marked more tightly, he began to falter and has lost possession so far in the Premier League showing little understanding of his positioning during the games. When he was asked to play in a bit more forward role, he did even worse just like one at Vicarage Road where he could complete only 71.7% of his passes over the 90 minutes.
Tactical Genius Mourinho Found Out Again
Manchester United’s new manager Jose Mourinho is touted as the tactical genius by many (due to his ability to put men behind the ball apparently). After his horror show last season at Chelsea when the group of players faltered collectively falling down to 16th place in the table before the Portuguese being sacked, Mourinho suffered every time he had to find solutions within the game in the attacking department.
Against Watford, United were very poor in their attacking half, managing to have just two shots on target and creating only 5 chances from open play in the 90 minutes. Watford troubled the visitors throughout as Mourinho failed to come up with an answer to Mazzarri’s tactics.