Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho faced one of his most humiliating days as a manager at half-time of Saturday’s Manchester derby.
But after his team came from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City 3-2, it could go down as one of the most important.
United have been left in the distance by City in the table this season. A loss at the Etihad would have had the added blow of seeing their rivals confirmed as champions.
That’s exactly what looked on the cards after a superb first-half display from Pep Guardiola’s side. City were carving them open again and again.
But United looked a totally different team after the break.
They responded with the intensity and determination associated with Mourinho’s best teams.
As well as showing a great attitude, their best players stood up to be counted.
Paul Pogba produced his finest display in a United shirt as he scored two goals. Alexis Sanchez finally looked like the player United thought they signed. When City did break through, David de Gea produced a world-class save to deny Sergio Aguero.
This should be the template for United going forwards.
Mourinho has been accused of playing too defensively with the talent at his disposal. But with nothing to lose, he let the likes of Pogba and Sanchez off the leash on Saturday.
The rewards were clear to see. Coming back in such dramatic circumstances should unite the dressing room too.
This team has now shown the level they can reach. If they can play that well consistently, United could make a serious challenge in the league and Champions League next term.
As for this season, the Red Devils could still end the campaign by winning the FA Cup. They’re a 9/4 shot to lift the trophy at Wembley.
In years to come, the derby may be remembered as when Mourinho truly stamped his mark on this United side.
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