Mourinho’s ‘Careful’ Tactics Are Boring

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho left Spain with a precious clean sheet but few admirers after the boring and less entertaining  0-0 Champions League draw with Sevilla that featured a terrible attacking display.

The night would have been a terrible one for Mourinho and United but for the heroics of goalkeeper David de Gea, who produced a dazzling display on Wednesday.

The Spaniard was forced into eight saves, including one remarkable stop from a point-blank Luis Muriel header just before half-time that was so spectacular the Colombian striker congratulated United’s number one as they left the pitch.

However, the result did not spare Mourinho from criticism, after he set his stall out from the start by leaving Paul Pogba on the bench for a workmanlike midfield three of Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and 21-year-old Scott McTominay.

Injury to Herrera forced Mourinho to introduce Pogba after just 17 minutes but even the French midfielder’s talents, for which United paid Juventus £89 million ($124 million) 18 months ago, failed to inspire a visiting side playing to strict instructions.

A team also containing the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku had just one shot on target all evening at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium and even that was a tame McTominay strike from outside the box that was easily beaten away by Sergio Rico.

But Mourinho reacted angrily when asked whether he is betraying United’s rich tradition of attacking football, most recently during Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden 27 years in charge.

“The next time I see David Beckham, I’m going to ask him ‘David, when you were playing right wing in Manchester United, when the left-back attacked, do you stay looking at the stands or you come back with the guy?’” said Mourinho.

“Now it looks like all the good players, they have to play free… which I think is such a stupid thing to say,” he added.

“The winning teams, the top teams in the world now, not 10 years ago, or 20 or 30, now, the top teams, everybody works, everybody has tactical discipline,” he said.

Mourinho was also irritated at the focus on the absence of Pogba from his starting line-up.

“In my pre-match interview I had four questions and three were about Paul, and Paul was not even playing,” he said. “That’s a bit strange.”

The United manager even hugged a TV reporter who asked him a question about McTominay, relieved it was not another about the French midfielder.

Sevilla, who conceded more goals than any other side that reached the last 16 of the Champions League, did not have their defensive weaknesses exposed by a cautious United team.

“Mourinho, look how hard it is to win when you don’t want to,” Spanish sports daily Marca headlined its match report, in a withering criticism of the former Real Madrid coach’s tactics.

It was a performance thrown into an even harsher light by the free-flowing attacking intent showed by Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on the road in the Champions League last week.

“Compared to other teams in our league in this competition they are not as pleasing on the eye,” said former United defender Rio Ferdinand.

“But they grind out results and in Europe I would be very satisfied with that and think ‘we will beat them at home’.

“Sometimes it can’t be pretty and it can’t always be free-flowing. There have been times this season United have played well but they aren’t as consistent in those performances of other teams.”

However, the tactics were in keeping with Mourinho’s cautious approach against the stronger sides away from home this season.

In trips to Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Sevilla, United have managed zero goals and a total of just seven shots on target.

That heaps the pressure on Mourinho to be far more daring with Chelsea and Liverpool visiting Old Trafford in the Premier League before the second leg against Sevilla on March 13 as he seeks to ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Jose Mourinho To Offload Chris Smalling And Phil Jones

Jose Mourinho is ready  to overhaul his Manchester United backline this summer with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to face the heat.

The duo have been so porous this season for United, with Smalling particularly coming in for criticism following the 1-0 defeat by Newcastle on Sunday.

The 28-year-old was booked for a dive and that resulted in Matt Ritchie’s goal which consigned United to defeat.

Jones produced an underwhelming display in United’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham at Wembley earlier this month.

He netted an own goal for Tottenham’s second, with Mourinho’s description of the finish as ‘an amazing goal Harry Kane would love to score’ far from supportive.

Yet while Mourinho has decided his defence needs strengthening, United actually have the best goals-against record in the Premier League this season.

But England Women manager and former United player Phil Neville believes that record comes in spite of Jones and Smalling.

‘Speaking on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday, Neville said: ‘They have got the best defensive record because they have the best goalkeeper in the world in David de Gea and (Nemanja) Matic out in front who protects them really well.

‘But the last two away games (against Tottenham and Newcastle), Smalling and Jones have been a disaster.

‘Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, they got bullied. Against Newcastle did they make many mistakes, no, but they created a nervousness and a tension.’

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Leicester centre-half Harry Maguire are names that feature on a shortlist of replacements.

Mourinho worked with France international Varane for the final two seasons of his  three-year tenure at Madrid, from 2011 until 2013.

Maguire has been in impressive form throughout the season at Leicester and won his first England cap, against Lithuania in World Cup qualifying last October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourinho: Zlanta, Carrick To Decide New Contract

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho admits there’s no option involved in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s new contract.

The Swede has penned a one-year deal with no option for the following season.

Mourinho said: “When some players have an option with another year’s option, it means they have one year left on the contract.

“It’s only Zlatan and Michael Carrick (who do not have it).

“These two players will be assessed after the season and we’ll analyze what they’ve done and what they want to do.”

 

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho Says Premier League Doesn’t Help Clubs

United play Middlesbrough on Sunday with the 12:00 GMT kick-off coming 62 hours after the end of their Europa League last-16 victory over FC Rostov.

Mourinho says United will “probably lose” and it would be “common sense” for the game to start at 17:00.

“They simply don’t care,” added the Portuguese of the Premier League, who offered no comment on the situation.

There is an agreement that clubs in Europa League action on a Thursday do not play on Saturdays. An international break stops the Premier League game at The Riverside from being played on Monday.

Premier League host broadcasters Sky and BT Sport decide which games they will televise live. Sky can show two mid-afternoon games on a Sunday – Tottenham v Southampton and Manchester City v Liverpool this week – and the game at Middlesbrough is being shown on BT Sport, who have the option of a midday slot.

Mourinho’s Next Move On Rostov

Jose Mourinho hopes Manchester United’s players will shrug off the effects of the stormy FA Cup loss to Chelsea when they resume Europa League hostilities with a depleted Rostov on Thursday.

Ander Herrera’s 35th-minute dismissal in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final obliged United to toil with 10 men for an hour as they succumbed to a sapping 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mourinho’s former club.

United have the upper hand against Rostov, having netted an away goal in a 1-1 draw in last week’s last-16 first leg in Russia, but their heavy schedule means freshness remains a concern.

“We have a very important match on Thursday and I want to rest a little bit to try to prepare the team as best we can,” United manager Mourinho told reporters at Stamford Bridge.

“That’s the most important thing now”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension and injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial meant Marcus Rashford had to play as a lone striker at Chelsea despite struggling with illness.

But while it is unclear whether Rooney or Martial will feature on Thursday, Ibrahimovic and Herrera will both be at Mourinho’s disposal as their suspensions only apply to domestic matches.

Centre-back Eric Bailly is also available again after missing the first leg through suspension.

With United’s FA Cup quest over, the Europa League is the only piece of silverware Mourinho’s side can hope to add to the League Cup they won with a 3-2 victory over Southampton last month.

Aleksandr Bukharov’s second-half equaliser saved Rostov from defeat last Thursday on a tricky pitch that left Mourinho fuming, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s 35th-minute opener meant United were content to return to England with a draw.

“They came back to 1-1 and then you can do two things: you can attack or you can be a bit smarter and know there’s a second leg. We chose the second option,” said United defender Daley Blind.

“We didn’t underestimate them and we know what they’re capable of in the home game.

“I’m sure we’ll play on a better pitch, in better conditions, with all the crowd behind us. We have to finish it at home.”

 

 

Mourinho slams Rostov pitch for Europa tie

Coach Jose Mourinho slammed the state of the Rostov pitch on Wednesday ahead of Manchester United’s Europa league tie, questioning whether the game should go ahead.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play,” Mourinho said at a press conference in Rostov ahead of Thursday’s last-16 tie.

“I know that we have to, but it is hard for me to believe we are going to play on that field — if you can call it a field.”

Mourinho compared the pitted and damaged Olimp-2 stadium pitch in Rostov to the surface at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium where Manchester United and City refused to play a pre-season friendly last year.

“I have now a lot to think (about) because I was expecting something more playable.

“On a very similar pitch in the summer in China, me and Manchester City decided not to play, but it looks like we have to play.”

He said he spoke of the risks of playing on the surface to a UEFA official and was rebuffed.

“I didn’t have any contact with anyone until now. I just had a quick contact with gentleman from UEFA when I was looking at the pitch,” he said.

“When I told him about my concerns the gentlemen just told me the players are insured -– if something happens no problem.”

Concern about the uneven pitch and his players’ safety posed a team selection headache for the Portuguese coach.

“I don’t know which team to play, really,” he said, against a side he described as ‘dangerous’, and who he knows beat both Ajax and Bayern Munich this season.

Wayne Rooney and leftback Luke Shaw were left at home along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and United are without Eric Bailly, who was sent off in their round of 32 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne.

But Armenian forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan returns to the 20-man squad after recovering from an injury incurred just after scoring the winner at St Etienne.

United’s target-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available and will play, Mourinho confirmed, despite his three-match domestic suspension which does not apply to the Europa league.

Mourinho is pondering how to counter a strong Rostov attack n which he singled out Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun as a particular threat

“I don’t even know if he plays. I think Rostov have four good attack players, especially three of them that are very dangerous so I don’t know who is going to play,” he said.

“I know that they are dangerous, I know they defend with 10 players, they defend with everybody and then they are very dangerous in conter-attack.”

Rostov coach Ivan Daniliants promised a “classy performance” against United.

“The match is sold out and we’re set to give our fans a classy performance,” he said.

Mikel comes for Mourinho

John Obi Mikel, has thrown a jab at his former boss Jose Mourinho, saying the dressing room is a lot more relaxed after the exit of the Portuguese.

Mikel who was a benchwarmer under Mourinho has risen in relevance to become a regular starter under interim boss, Guus Hiddink whose calming effect he has praised, describing him as someone who minds his business.

“From day one, since Guus has come in, the atmosphere has changed,’ the 29-year-old Mikel said. “The players feel more relaxed, people know what their jobs are and people are getting on with their jobs in a more relaxed way. And a way they can perform very well.

“He has given responsibility to people and expects them to thrive on it and make sure they do it in way where they feel comfortable. I think that is what the players are showing now.

“When you come into the training ground, the players are more relaxed, he doesn’t get into people’s business, he gets on with his own thing and players feel very comfortable and know exactly what to do so when he gets on the training pitch, he doesn’t need to speak.

“We all know what he wants and it is the same when we go into a game.”

The Nigerian midfielder also lent some words of support to the interim coach saying him and several of his teammates will like for him to stay beyond this season.

“I want him to stay,” he said. “It is the choice of the owner, the club and the board. They will have to decide. But if you speak to the players, 98 or 99 per cent of them want him to stay so I mean, we are very happy, we are performing well and let’s hope this continues.

“It depends on the board and it depends on Guus if he wants to continue. He has said that he is here until the end of the season but you never know, he might change his mind. If the club want to appoint him fair enough. His record speaks for itself.”