Manchester United 4 Fenerbahce 1: Robin Returns, Signs of Pogback and other talking points from the Europa League tie

Manchester United romped home to a comfortable 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League tie at Old Trafford to take a step towards qualification to the next stage

Manchester United hosted Fenerbahce on Thursday night with Mourinho fielding a strong lineup despite resting key stars like Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera. Wayne Rooney was entrusted with leading the front-line as Robin Van Persie marked his return to Old Trafford, albeit on the other side.

After a frustrating half-hour, United raced to a 2-0 lead thanks, in large, to two penalties which were rightly awarded by the referee. Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba then combined for the next two goals as each took turns to score one and provide for the other, with Pogba scoring the first of the two.

United took their tally to six points as Fenerbahce, who were table-toppers before the clash, dropped out of the qualifying positions. The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the significant talking points from the game:

1. Robin returns to his old hunting ground and seems to be slowly getting back to his old form

Robin Van Persie returned to Old Trafford, a place wherein he stayed only for a brief period but passionately called it his home. And the Dutch veteran was greeted well by the United fans on his homecoming. Despite United being dominant in terms of the scoreline, Robin Van Persie latched onto the end of a cross by Emenike and grabbed a consolation goal.

The player, though, received a standing ovation from the United supporters with Sir Alex Ferguson also appreciating van Persie’s efforts. The player sort of replied, appreciating the gesture shown by United fans.

Van Persie showed glimpses of his clinical self and is slowly starting to get back in form with 2 goals in the last 3 matches for Fenerbahce. The Turks have not had the best of starts domestically and could do with Persie’s return to the menacing form he showed in England for a long time.

2. Pogback to his Juventus form?

Paul Pogba, a name that has drawn so much criticism, at times, because of his failure to go about his duties with his usual aplomb and at other times, merely because of the transfer fees he commanded that saw him return to United.

The Frenchman, though, showed signs of getting closer to his Juventus self, a signal which should serve as a warning to United’s adversaries.

The midfielder put in a Man of the Match performance as he was seen dribbling and even dabbing, making a nuisance of himself, albeit in a good way. While his first came courtesy of a converted penalty, his second of the night was pure class as he curled one from a slight distance away from the edge of the box, into the corner.

The Frenchman may be still far from his best but his performances show he is slowly getting there. Improvement is always appreciated and the double would give him confidence, not that he lacked any in the first place, which could prove to be crucial with Manchester United going into a crunch November.

3. Calculated experimentation the way forward for Jose Mourinho

That Jose Mourinho is yet to find balance in the midfield and attack is not news to anyone. Even though the Portuguese seems to have his defence locked up, the likes of Pogba, Zlatan, Rashford and Mata seem to be the only ones viewed as guaranteed starters in crunch ties.

The main conundrum for Jose has been the case of the missing partner to Paul Pogba. Mourinho has tried many combinations, but after the success of Herrera at that position, the boss had retained the player despite wide range of fans calling for Carrick to be given a chance as well.

Mourinho gave the likes of Carrick and Depay a chance to shine while also deploying Rooney as centre-forward. Even in defence, the Portuguese started Darmian and Shaw, giving the duo an opportunity to impress the manager.

Mourinho has found his core and has stuck to them at almost all times barring some necessary changes and after the Feyenoord debacle, where he rested almost the whole squad, Mourinho has taken a cautious approach at rotation.

Against Fenerbahce, he showed he is still willing to give players on the fringes and other youngsters a chance coupled with retaining his core or at least, a part of it.

And results show that is the way forward for the Portuguese, at least until he finds squad rhythm or his side hits his stride.

4. Carrick and Darmian give a good account of themselves

Matteo Darmian and Michael Carrick both were given a rare start in a bid to impress the manager and the duo delivered with Carrick bossing the midfield while Darmian making the right flank his own. Darmian was impressive as he helped in defence, joined attacks and was a part of the buildup to many of the chances created on the night before being substituted.

Carrick, though, exuded pure class. The player sprayed passes with authority and displayed exemplary vision in almost every single movement and distribution. Even though Mourinho is deploying Herrera alongside Pogba, Carrick gives the manager an additional option and even perhaps a slightly better one.

5. A first-look at Fosu-Mensah in his preferred position

Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been deployed as a right-back as well as a centre-back in the first-team. Mourinho was reported to have earmarked the right-back position for Timothy with the aim of developing him into a world-beater at that respective position.

However, United fans have often voiced their opinion that Fosu-Mensah’s technically gifted game is perhaps more suited to in the midfield rather than the back, with the player himself giving slight preference to the defensive midfield position.

Mourinho, finally, gave Fosu-Mensah the chance to show his talent in that very position as he was brought on to replace Pogba and the youngster, who has recently signed a contract extension at the club, carried out his duties efficiently.

He ran up and down the pitch with agility, showed glimpses of his technical prowess, with the highlight being his touch to bring down a long ball to prevent it from going out for a throw. His physicality and pace meant he tracked back well to stop potential breaks and apart from one careless free-kick near the middle of the park, the performance was top-notch.

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