Jose Mourinho was happy to see Manchester United grind out a different type of a win at Southampton.
United were second-best for much of the afternoon at St Mary’s but Romelu Lukaku’s sixth Premier League goal of the season was enough to earn the points and help the visitors keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table.
Mourinho’s side have been in free-scoring form this term but they had to show resilience in the face of persistent Saints pressure and the manager was delighted with his players’ character.
“It is not always possible for high quality, but we fought hard,” said Mourinho the BBC. “We did for 25 minutes what many teams do for 90 minutes – to have five at the back and defend.
“We had two chances to kill the game, which is what we felt we could do, but credit to them, they tried to play, they sent on a second striker to play more direct but we fought really hard and I am happy.
“The majority of our players did not play in the midweek match [against Burton in the Carabao Cup]. Maybe it was the heat because we don’t see the sun in Manchester often. I felt the boys were not sharp, so the option was to go for the points.
“The way we attack is something we are doing since the start of the season, to defend like that was the first time that had happened to us this season.
On Lukaku’s superb start to his United career, Mourinho added: “I knew he would score goals, more for us than he did for Everton or West Brom, that is logical, but I was not expecting him match after match to put the ball in the net.
“He is a striker that is scoring goals, but his work is so important for us and he worked hard like everybody else.”