Just two weeks ago Fenerbahçe were humiliated in a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, which strengthened the idea that Manchester United were a far superior team. Nevertheless, the strategies Jose Mourinho and Dick Advocaat implemented have changed drastically since that game, especially Mourinho's ones. Fenerbahçe coach Advocaat apparently understood the ineffectiveness of the ultra-defensive system he opted for at Old Trafford, and chose a more daring strategy in Istanbul. On the other side, strangely, Mourinho implemented a defensive strategy as if he played with another team last week, learning the worst lessons from that game.
First of all, even though I strongly oppose the sole use of individual talent for creativity, Mourinho should have predicted that a midfield trio consisting of Paul Pogba, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anders Herrera would suffer from severe dullness. When Pogba was injured in the first half, it was an opportunity for Mourinho to put Juan Mata into midfield to increase creativity, but instead he chose to put Zlatan İbrahimovic in the middle of crowded Fenerbahçe defense. This move not only pushed United to play more long balls, and eventually carrying the game into chaos as Fenerbahçe wanted, but also bypassed the midfield completely which Fenerbahçe did not press intensely.
Since his arrival to İstanbul, Dick Advocaat has implemented a simple way of playing football. In an orthodox approach to traditional football, he radically widened the length of the game to create space for fast players like Jeremain Lens, Emmanuel Emenike and Volkan Şen and he isolated his defenders from the attack, which separated his team into two parts. This strategy, as you can guess, was very fragile against the teams who prefers to dominate the huge gap between the defense and attack of Fenerbahçe, which resembled the empty steppes of Mongolia. Hence, things were not going very well for Advocaat but Mourinho came to the rescue at the best moment.
Given United have dedicated themselves to utilizing the time and space left from the teams who like to play their own game and dominate ball possession, Fenerbahçe were not the best opponents. Nonetheless, Fenerbahçe did nothing but wait for United at their penalty box in the first game and even a team like United eventually took the initiative and enjoyed two-thirds of the field and the infinite time to shape attacks. Thus, the result was pretty decisive and I thought Mourinho would see Fenerbahçe's problem and would press it more in Istanbul.However, I believe Mourinho cannot be so blind as to let his team play even more conservatively than usual against Fenerbahçe, whereas Fenerbahçe left enough time and space for them again. I believe Mourinho truly does not have a plan to score when his opponent is not willing to score. Although Fenerbahçe found opportunities in the second half, goals were pretty occasional and the kind of ones that you cannot repeat again. Advocaat made his whole team defend strictly in their half and then play long balls to catch United's defense off-guard. Mourinho, on the other hand, did not even bother occupying the space in the midfield and left his defense close to his penalty box, as if he returned the favor by letting the home team create some space.
As a result, United could not even find an opportunity against Fenerbahçe and just like their opponent's goals, their goal was also a coincidental one. The question is, how can a team like United be champions in the Premier League and the Europa League if they do not know how to score when their opponent is willing to defend. It is a coach's moment to shine when their opponent gives them space and time, if still he cannot produce anything promising, it is time to question the ability of the coach himself.
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