Four reasons why Jose Mourinho’s men are on their best run of form in eight years

Manchester United have put their best run of form together since 2009, with the 4-0 victory over Reading on Saturday making it eight wins in a row and 14 games without defeat.

Before putting this run together, in which pundits have likened the side to the "United of old", Jose Mourinho's team had been wretched.

Throughout that run, Mourinho insisted that he was "restoring the club's DNA" and, indeed, late wins over Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough in recent weeks were reminiscent of some of Sir Alex Ferguson's great sides.

Rojo and Jones partnership

Both players were linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the summer but the converted left-back and gaffe-prone centre-half have formed a rock solid combination in United's defence. Admittedly Rojo was lucky not to have been banned for his lunging challenge on Everton's Idrissa Gueye just before this run got started, but after that stroke of fortune and a strong run of performances, Mourinho is reported to have made a u-turn on his future. Jones, meanwhile, is keeping Chris Smalling – so impressive last year – out of the side.

Pressure on Pep

While United have quietly been putting a good run of games together, cross-town rivals Manchester City have been struggling for form and manager Pep Guardiola has been hitting the headlines instead.

Before this run of form, Mourinho was the one getting visibly frustrated with his side, falling out with journalists and being sent to the stands. He will be hoping Guardiola keeps up his antics for as long as possible.

 

The stability and experience of Carrick

The 35-year-old did not start a single league game for United in the months of August, September and October but after captaining the side in their 1-0 win over Manchester City in the EFL Cup has been almost ever-present.

Of the 15 games Carrick has started this season in all competitions, United have won 13, drawn two and lost none. No wonder Mourinho is rumoured to be offering him a one-year contract extension.

Ibrahimovic continues to prove his critics wrong

Some eyebrows were raised when United chose a 35-year-old to lead their line this season, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been nothing short of a revelation.

Only a harshly ruled out effort against Middlesbrough stopped the Swede equally Leo Messi's record of 51 goals in 2016.

He has, as he said himself, made his critics "eat their balls". United will be hoping he continues to do the same in 2017.

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