Not many were expecting him to start against Liverpool and he had a good match, not just about scoring goals.
Pogba was ruled out after picking up an injury in the team's final training session before the match and Mourinho is awaiting information on whether he can shake off the knock in time for the visit of the Spanish side.
However, United know Spurs will not let Alderweireld move on without a fight, meaning that the Red Devils could turn their attention to the cheaper option of £20m-rated Papastathopoulos instead. United ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a first-half double from Marcus Rashford but getting over the finish line required a mountain of defensive work as Jurgen Klopp's Reds pushed the home side all the way. So while other teams may have an edge in flamboyance and excitement, United are becoming mighty effective. An Eric Bailly own goal in the 66th minute saw the visitors claw back but there was no further delight for them as the hosts collected all three points and with it consolidated their grip on second place in the league standings.
In one of the final games of the round of 16 in this year's Champions League - Manchester United will lock horns with Sevilla for a place in the Quarter-finals. It's a team with a big tradition. A late, great comeback against Crystal Palace, where the players surged into the away end to embrace with fans was reminiscent of the best of times under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The days when United could take title triumphs for granted are gone.
Manchester United enter this pivotal round-of-sixteen decider on a major high. Those kind of trimmings can come later. I can't know for sure, but I'm not so sure.
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Louis van Gaal constantly took notes on the sideline during his Manchester United tenure but Jose Mourinho doesn't do it as often, which is probably why the Sky Sports cameras panned to the Portuguese frantically scribbling something in the first half.
Mourinho, who can irritate and amuse in equal measure, has to face sniping criticism that his style flies in the face of club traditions. A trophy isn't always a trophy at Manchester United's level, but it worked.
In any case, it is not as if Mourinho's team are tiresome.
His first goal in particular didn't resemble a player short on confidence and without a goal in the league since early December. In fact, United have scored only one fewer than Spurs, who enjoy far more acclaim as cavaliers and get a far better press. United made nearly no attempt to grab themselves an away goal and were largely indebted to David De Gea for a string of early saves that ensured they returned from Andalusia unscathed.
United's first-half play was very impressive and they were completely deserving of the lead but Liverpool dominated possession in the second-half.
Much of the pre-match talk centred around how United were going to cope with Liverpool's in-form front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and the league's joint-top scorer Mohamed Salah.