Jose Mourinho hails Manchester United's 'control' in win over Northampton
Jose Mourinho was pleased with the controlled display that saw off Northampton and secured Manchester United a mouth-watering EFL Cup clash with Manchester City.
A previously nondescript third-round trip to Sixfields took on increased importance after United's winning start to the campaign came to a shuddering halt.
Sunday's defeat at Watford and last Thursday's Europa League loss to Feyenoord continued a poor run started after the international break by losing the Manchester derby.
The ignominy of a fourth straight loss was avoided with a timely 3-1 win at League One side Northampton, setting up a re-match with Pep Guardiola's City in the fourth round.
"We deserved to win clearly," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "(It was) difficult as I was expecting, but we were totally in control for the first 35 minutes and then we were again in control for the last 45.
"The team was in control from the beginning and the substitutions were just a contribution but overall the team was completely in control.
"The game could and should have been easier because normally it's easier against 10 men and we should have been playing against 10 men very early in the second half.
"But they fought, they played with their strength and they tried to create us problems, which they did sometimes.
"So, difficult match but overall a positive performance."
Mourinho swerved most reporters after the match, only speaking to rights-holders before United's team coach made a swift exit.
In the little post-match activity he did, the Portuguese underlined his anger that Jak McCourt's tackle on Memphis Depay early in the second half brought a booking rather than a red card.
"I think I should stop to speak about referees' decisions, I should be waiting for you to speak about (them) - some with honest vision, some with dishonest vision," he said.
"A couple of minutes ago I told about the red card because it's really a dangerous situation.
"I'm not speaking about the penalty against Man City, I'm speaking about a situation that could (cause) an important injury, and even in this kind of situation I should stop and leave with you, some honest, some dishonest."
In the end the decision made little impact on the result, with Ander Herrera restoring United's lead with a thumping 68th-minute effort that Marcus Rashford added to following an embarrassing moment for goalkeeper Adam Smith.
Northampton had gone into the break level after Alex Revell netted from the spot, cancelling out a sumptuous strike from Michael Carrick on his first appearance since the Community Shield.
"I don't like to individualise too much," Mourinho said when asked about Carrick. "I think he was fine. I think the midfield worked really well and were in control of the game.
"Later I changed (Morgan) Schneiderlin to Marouane (Fellaini) to try to control what I knew was going to happen with our opponent losing 2-1, which was (they would) start putting long balls into the box and waiting for set-pieces, but I think collectively the team was fine."
Fellaini was Mourinho's final substitution of the night, having thrown on Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic early in the second half in search of victory.
Such strength in depth paid dividends and, while frustrated by the goals his side conceded, Northampton counterpart Rob Page was proud of his side.
"It is disappointing but from their effort I can't complain with that at all," the Cobblers boss said.
"It was probably the strongest bench I've ever seen in my career and when you see the likes of them warming up to come up you do sort of take a gasp.
"It is a compliment to our team that they felt the need to put those three on to win them the game and inevitably they did.
"They didn't have to work too hard for the goals. I thought we gifted all three, had a hand in all three."