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Jose Mourinho often attracts criticism for the way he sets his teams up in bigger games. Rather than going for the win, he appears preoccupied instead with mitigating his oppositions strengths, reacting rather than sending United out to win. But to be critical of ‘reactive coaching’ is reductive and unfair. Recently, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp adapted their teams’ styles when Manchester City met Liverpool. And if coaches associated with attacking, attractive football can also be pragmatic, it’s hardly surprising that a coach like Mourinho, who has fashioned title-winning teams greater than the sum of their parts using this approach, does so too. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Mourinho has, at times, been unfairly tarred with this brush based on his approach not yielding the desired result, rather than because it’s inherently a bad thing to do.

Manchester United’s next fixture, at home to Juventus, will test Mourinho’s pragmatism to the limits.

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