Derby County knock out Man United, increase the pressure on Jose Mourinho
MANCHESTER, England -- Here are three points from Old Trafford on Derby County's 2-2 (8-7 on penalties) win over Manchester United in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
1. Jose Mourinho sees position weaken after day of drama
It looked like it would be a good day for Jose Mourinho.
Ahead of Derby's visit on Tuesday, he received the backing of executive vice chairman Ed Woodward despite an indifferent start to the season. News broke later in the afternoon that the Manchester United manager had told Paul Pogba that he would not captain the team again in a bid to underline his authority in what has become a particularly messy power struggle.
With Pogba watching from the stands -- rested according to Mourinho -- things quickly got even better for the 55-year-old when Juan Mata put United 1-0 up inside of five minutes against a Derby side managed by his former player, Frank Lampard, in the Carabao Cup. Then it got worse. And worse still.
Two Derby goals either side of a red card for Sergio Romero looked to have condemned United to a third-round exit. Marouane Fellaini's stoppage-time equaliser delayed it slightly before Phil Jones missed the crucial kick in the penalty shootout to hand the Championship side an 8-7 win on penalties.
Perhaps more significantly, a day that should have been about the Portuguese coach strengthening his position at Old Trafford ended in the exact opposite fashion. It was the last thing he needed.
In the latest installment of Pogba versus Mourinho, the Frenchman suggested that Mourinho was to blame for a lack of attacking football at Old Trafford, but that wasn't a problem here, at least not for the first 15 minutes, when United could have easily scored five.
Romelu Lukaku, starting a Carabao Cup game in United colours for the first time, headed wide, Mata finished second-best in a one-on-one with Scott Carson, Ashley Young hit the post direct from a corner, and Lukaku fired wide after going clean through.
Mata made sure they had something to show for their early dominance, calmly bending his shot around Carson after a flowing move involving Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Lukaku. It was the Spaniard's first goal of the season and his first in 276 days.
Mourinho made a point in his programme notes of saying the draw with Wolves had been a lesson in the dangers of playing at "95 percent when the opposition are playing the game of their lives." But, just like Saturday, United began to struggle after taking the lead.
In the second half, Harry Wilson drew a good save from Romero. But if the midfielder on loan from Liverpool thought he had missed his chance of a dream goal at Old Trafford, he was wrong. Young brought down David Nugent 25 yards from goal, and the 21-year-old stepped up to arrow a beautiful free kick past Romero and into the far corner.
On 67 minutes, Wilson and Nugent were at the centre of it again. Nugent sent Wilson clear, and a touch intended to push the ball past Romero hit the Argentine's hand outside the box. Romero had no complaints at the red card that followed, except to Jones, who had let the 30-yard pass drift over his head.
Derby substitute Jack Marriot thought he had won it inside 90 minutes with a close-range header on a rebound before Fellaini powered over Andre Wisdom to head in on 95 minutes to take the game to penalties and, seemingly, reprieve Mourinho and his players.
But after 15 successful penalties, it fell to Jones, who saw his effort saved by Carson to send Lampard punching the air and leave Mourinho wobbling on a day that should have been all about solidifying his position.
2. Martial puts more pressure on Sanchez
If Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez are competing for one place on the left side of Jose Mourinho's front three, the Frenchman did his case no harm against Derby.
After scoring his first goal of the season in the 3-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League, Martial was back on the bench against Wolves.
In the team against Derby, the 22-year-old took his chance. After two minutes, he laid on a golden chance for Romelu Lukaku. It was his sprint down the left that led to Juan Mata's, and he would have had another assist before half-time had Lukaku not headed over after he turned Jayden Bogle inside out in the penalty area.
It was the type of performance that Martial put in regularly during his first season at Old Trafford. Full of pace and, more importantly, confidence, he scares defences. By half-time, Frank Lampard was screaming at his players to get tighter in an effort to stop him from playing.
It gives Mourinho a decision to make at West Ham on Saturday. Sanchez is woefully out of form and has been substituted in his past three games. Against Wolves on Saturday, he was hauled off after 64 minutes. It was a bad night for United, but Martial was one who made his point here.
3. Liverpool youngster Wilson haunts United
Not many 21-year-old Liverpool players have scored better goals at Old Trafford than Harry Wilson's wonderful second-half free kick. Sergio Romero, Argentina's No. 1, will have seen plenty of Lionel Messi's efforts fly past him in training, but he will have seen few better than Wilson's fierce drive from 25 yards out.
Mason Mount, on loan from Chelsea, is the Derby loanee who has attracted the most attention so far this season, but against United, Wilson at least showed that he should be mentioned in the same bracket.
His driving run forward resulted in Romero's red card, and it was his intelligence that allowed Marriot to put Derby ahead late on when he was in an offside position. He even capped it off with a calm penalty in front of the Stretford End in the shootout. What a performance from the youngster.