Manchester United do just enough against Juventus with a win that raises many more questions than answers

What was that result most down to: Juventus squandering so many chances, or Szczesny offering them up? An did United get lucky, or once again get just rewards for their resilience?

Miguel Delaney
Thursday 08 November 2018 07:45
Jose Mourinho hails 'fantastic' win against Juventus

After a late show like that in Turin, there are always a few bigger questions that go beyond the actual result, and way beyond how it is a club like Juventus can persist with a goalkeeper like Wojciech Szczesny.

Who does the sting in the tail say the most about? What is more telling going forward, the 85 minutes where Juventus should have won, or the five minutes when Manchester United actually did win?

What was that result most down to: Juve squandering so many chances at one end, or Szczesny offering them up at the other? And did United get lucky, or once again get just rewards for their resilience?

You kind of have to zoom out for proper answers, since that happening the odd time points to fortune but happening a lot indicates something more inherent; something deeper.

And while it’s true that this result could have been so much worse than the first leg for United had Juventus taken any of their many big chances between Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal and Juan Mata’s equaliser, it also feels true that Jose Mourinho’s side were never completely outclassed by the Italians in the way they were at Old Trafford.

They were more cohesive and more committed, and thereby mostly stayed in touching distance of Juve - both in general play and the scoreline - so they could take advantage of any error. And

Szczesny ended up making one minor error, and one major one.

United, meanwhile, are regularly making up for errors. That is what is happening so much.

So, even if there was an element of luck in how this specific game panned out, the wider truth is that United were primed to take advantage of it.

The fragility of the first two months of the season that Paul Pogba spoke of before this game is gone. It has been replaced by that resilience, that perseverance.

They’ve generated a rhythm. It is not yet quite a rhythm in terms of performance, but is a rhythm in terms of performing basic tasks well enough to get a result.

United are no longer as fragile

This was something Mourinho alluded to in his post-game press conference.

“I think we played this season against Chelsea and Juventus away, the two best teams that we face this season and we played very well in both. In here, lucky to win in last minute against Chelsea unlucky not to win in last minute but we played very very well and this is what we want, we want to play well, we want to go to every stadium, and it doesn't matter the team, and we play.

Then if they are better than us they win, if they have more potential than us, they win, if we make mistakes and pay for the mistakes we lose but I want the feeling, it doesn't matter where we go, we go to compete and this is the feeling the Manchester United supporters around the world want to have that feeling, switch on the television, and it doesn't matter where we play, they know we are going to compete. We will lose matches, today we could lose, but that feeling of we go to play, we go to try to win.”

This was a famous victory 

United have that feeling back. Ronaldo meanwhile had a feeling of frustration back.

“We should've won the game easily,” the Portuguese said. “Three, four goals. Manchester didn’t do much, in my opinion.”

They did enough, though, something happening more and more of late. And that can offer the building blocks to something greater.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments