Jose Mourinho didn’t have any trouble stopping Leicester City on Saturday, despite his initial concerns.
“Their defensive process is clear, their attacking organisation is very easy to understand, too, but it is very difficult to cope with it,” the Manchester United boss said a day before watching his team beat the Foxes 4-1.
“It is very difficult to keep a clean sheet against a team like Leicester and it is difficult to score goals against a team like Leicester.”
Very difficult, but United managed it. Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba got the goals in a cruising win.
Yet Mourinho was right to be fearful, and not simply due to United’s recent form. Only two teams scored more goals than Claudio Ranieri’s team last season, and only two teams conceded less as they won the Premier League.
It was the Foxes who put the nail in the coffin for Mourinho in his second spell at Chelsea, too. He was sacked two days after a 2-1 loss at the King Power Stadium.
Ranieri’s counter-attacking style confounded several opponents last season, from N’Golo Kante retrieving possession to Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy putting the ball in the back of the net, Leicester were like a well-oiled machine.
It was the stimulus behind their remarkable triumph. Opposing teams knew how Leicester would set up and still failed to prevent them winning the title by 10 points.
It’s no wonder, then, that Mourinho believes the Foxes possess the best counter-attacking player in the Premier League.
In an interview with Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, Mourinho also gave a warning to his former team Porto ahead of their Champions League clash against the English champions on Tuesday.
“FC Porto shouldn’t think Leicester are what they’ve done against Manchester,” Mourinho said. “It’s nothing like that.
“Leicester are a good team and Porto will have to play very well to beat them.
“They’re a very dangerous team in counter-attacks and Vardy is the best counter-attacking player in English football.”
Ranieri brought Islam Slimani to the club in the summer in an attempt to give Vardy more support . The former Sporting Lisbon man has scored two goals in three appearances for his new club and Mourinho believes he adds another dimension to Leicester’s attack.
The United boss added: “Slimani, who seemed to be out of context in the team against Manchester, came to add what they didn’t have, which is the aerial ball power, jumping to deflect and Vardy running in deep, attacking the crosses they make from the wings.”