There was never a problem with Luke Shaw
It turns out Luke Shaw is a pretty decent left-back – who knew? Named in the starting line-up to face Sunderland on Sunday, the pressure was on Shaw to produce a performance to prove his critics (namely his own manager, Jose Mourinho) wrong. And produce he duly did, exploiting Sunderland’s weak defence out wide to dominate down his flank, delivering an eye-catching display and an assist before being taken off when on a yellow card. Mourinho was quick to praise the youngster’s display, turning away from the criticism of recent weeks to say that Shaw’s “attitude is improving, the training is improving, the opportunities are coming – it's just a process of education”. Yet surely all that does is confirm that this whole situation was one created by Mourinho himself. If a few days is all it takes for a player to completely turn his attitude around then maybe there wasn’t a problem in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, this was a case of Jose using a player to create a story that overshadows the struggles of his team on the pitch – just as he did with Henrikh Mkhitaryan earlier in the season.
Sunderland have lost hope
Sunderland are going to be relegated – we can safely say that now. David Moyes’ side have seemed destined for the drop for a while now, but there was always a slither of a chance that the Black Cats might pull yet another survival miracle out of the bag. That’s chance has surely gone now. It’s not just the club’s position (ten points from safety with seven games to play) that suggests hope is gone. It’s the manner of the team’s defeat against Manchester United that seems to guarantee their demise. This was not a squad with the will to scrap out of trouble. From a slumped David Moyes on the touchline to an irresponsible Seb Larsson throwing himself over the top of the ball to collect a red card, Sunderland’s behaviour screamed of a side who have given up.
United would be lost without Ibrahimovic
It’s easy to forget that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 35-years-old. Rarely has such a footballing pensioner had such a dominant impact on one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs. But had Ibrahimovic not been in the Manchester United side this season then a disappointing start to Jose Mourinho’s tenure would have been a disastrous one. Seventeen league goals is a brilliant turnaround for any striker at this stage of the season, not least one experiencing his first campaign in a new country with legs that aren’t as quick as they used to be. And it’s not just goals that Ibrahimovic brings. His opener against Sunderland showed what he’s all about: that match-changing ability to conjure something out of nothing. Without him United often look limp and lifeless. Mourinho must be praying he can convince his talisman to sign on for another year.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Five Truths: United would be lost without Zlatan, Leicester are phoning it in