Jose Mourinho has spoken with delight about the mentality and experience possessed by new no.7 Alexis Sanchez, ahead of Manchester United’s trip to face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.
The Chilean struck his first goal for the club during a Man-of-the-Match display in last Saturday’s 2-0 home win against Huddersfield Town. During Friday’s pre-match press conference at the Aon Training Complex, Mourinho was asked which of Alexis’s myriad qualities he particularly liked.
The manager responded: “His mentality. I like to have in my team a player that loses the ball in minute 91 and doesn’t stop until he recovers that ball – even if he is that tired like he was in the last minute of the last match [against Huddersfield].
“A crucial moment in football is when your team loses the ball and you become exposed and open for the opponent to hurt you. So when you have players in the team with that mentality of, ‘I made a mistake or I lost the ball and I am going to recover it for my team’, that is very important. All of this combination – his experience, his talent, his mentality – makes a player that I like.”
Alexis opened his United account against Huddersfield after winning a penalty when fouled by Terriers defender Michael Hefele on 68 minutes. The forward saw his resulting spot-kick saved by Danish goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, but was able to turn home the rebound in front of an exultant Stretford End.
The performance of United’s no.7 was also notable for earning seven free-kicks – in fact, no player has drawn more fouls in a single game so far during the current Premier League season.
“You can see the way Alexis was ‘welcomed’ by the opponents,” the boss said. “He’s a tough boy, he’s a pure guy, he’s a guy that copes with that. He coped at Yeovil in difficult conditions too with some bad tackles and against Huddersfield.”