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Manchester United have come through a tricky week with three wins out of three.
Jose Mourinho’s men have displayed a mental strength, a resolve and a fight that the Portuguese has yearned for all season.
Ander Herrera is, in many ways, symbolic of United’s new-found psychological vigour. Energetic, determined and relentless, he crystallises what Mourinho wants from his men.
Indeed, it was his immense display at Old Trafford that kick-started this week’s impressive collection of results.
Out-marking a world class player – Eden Hazard, in case you forgot – is no mean feat. It requires a mental discipline that only few can obtain.
To then create one with a sublime pass and to net the second, albeit through a slice of luck, simply illustrates the Spaniard’s quality. But, this is not about Herrera.
This is about a team galvanised under Mourinho – a team that is beginning to assume its identity. 22 games unbeaten, but most of those have been draws, the critics bemoan.
Well, it looks like United are finding that cutting edge and stoicism to convert would-be draws to vital wins.
The Reds could have easily crashed out to Anderlecht on Thursday night, but sheer fight meant they did not.
Marcus Rashford once again popped up; a world-class moment demonstrating his immeasurable potential.
But, again, this is not about Rashford.
The whole team pushed, and pushed, refusing to allow the entry of the demons of doubt: demons that have hampered Mourinho’s first season.
What may kill you makes you stronger
Extra-time will have been gruelling, especially for a team that has played Sunday – Thursday – Sunday virtually every week since the turn of the year.
But, they came through it – perhaps painfully, but stronger for it.
To Burnley, and Turf Moor. Not a formality, especially at Burnley’s fortress home ground.
Don’t forget, Liverpool lost here and Chelsea slipped up.
Sean Dyche has fermented a solid, compact and organised Burnley side that are hard to beat. At home, they have a better record than the Reds do at Old Trafford.
Once again, though, Mourinho’s faith in his team paid off.
A returning Anthony Martial took his chance emphatically, finishing off a lightning quick counter-attack and turning part-provider for Wayne Rooney.
It’s all about belief
Martial will grab the headlines, but it was a team performance – a team now believing they are capable of anything.
3 wins out of 3: games that could have been dangerous territory. They’ve come through it.
It is obvious to see Mourinho’s psychological strength now projecting onto his United team.
It is this mental vigour that will see them beat Manchester City on Thursday.
Written by Michael Jones
Follow Michael on Twitter @jonesmichael_97
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