Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he was grateful for the “ammunition” he had on the bench, as his substitutions again made a positive impact in a 2-0 win away against West Ham United on Monday.
United had been drawing 0-0 with 10-man West Ham when Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford came on in the second half before the Englishman supplied his Spanish colleague to open the scoring. Zlatan Ibrahimovic later scored the second.
On Saturday, at home against Middlesbrough, United had been trailing 1-0 before second-half substitutes Mata and Rashford were influential in turning the game around, with the Spaniard supplying Paul Pogba for the winning goal in a 2-1 victory.
“I had, on the bench, ammunition. I had, on the bench, Mata and Rashford — crucial in both matches,” Mourinho told MUTV. “I think, in these fixtures, it’s very important to have people on the bench who are capable of breaking the game.
“Today I had the feeling of starting with Mata and Rashford, but I thought it’s better for them to come off the bench when everybody is dying [tired] — and the decision was proven right.”
The victory at West Ham means that United have won seven games in succession — including six in a row in the Premier League — and they are unbeaten in 13 matches.
They remain sixth but are now level on points with Tottenham Hotspur and one point behind Arsenal, although both North London clubs have a game in hand. United are three points behind Manchester City and five points adrift of Liverpool — with all those teams having played the same number of games — but Mourinho’s men are 10 points adrift of Chelsea, who have a game in hand.
“We don’t chase records, we just chase good performances and points,” Mourinho said. “We know that Chelsea or Tottenham are going to lose points or both. Last week, we knew Liverpool or Manchester City could lose points.
“We need to try to win points. We played so well but we drew so much. Now six matches, six victories, 18 points — that’s exactly what we need.”