Jose Mourinho revealed that a half-time pep talk set Manchester United on their way to the EFL Cup semi-finals as they roared to a 4-1 triumph over West Ham at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese was serving a one-match touchline ban on Wednesday, but his side shrugged off his absence to record a convincing victory as Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two apiece.
Despite dominating the first half the hosts were level at the break, with former United youngster Ashley Fletcher equalising against the run of play, which left Mourinho’s men in need of some words of encouragement.
“After their goal we had 10 minutes where we felt it deeply and the players couldn’t hide that, because West Ham’s first shot they equalised,” the United boss, whose side drew Hull City in the last four, told Sky Sports.
“But in the second half the team again got the confidence to play and to win comfortably and playing beautiful, attacking football, which is something the fans like, but we need results.
“I told them at half-time that it’s not possible to play so well and because of a goal you stop playing so well.
“I told them forget the goal. We are playing so well that we have to keep confidence, so forget the undeserved goal. Forget that at half-time we should be winning and we aren’t.
“And in the second half we had the goals. Goals plus performance means the real happiness.”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan turned in a man-of-the-match display and the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder may have played his way into contention for a starting berth in the Premier League.
Mourinho added: “I’m so happy because he was against a Premier League team with Premier League qualities and Premier League characteristics.
“That showed clearly his evolution because against Feyenoord [in the Europa League] we could think, ‘Okay, it’s a different profile of football’ – this was against a proper and typical Premier League team and Micky could perform in this way.
“We know the reason we brought him and we were waiting for his evolution and it looks like it’s coming.”
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