Mourinho hits out at Manchester United players
Portuguese coach under growing pressure
Jose Mourinho is not a happy man – and he’s not afraid to let everybody know about it.
The Portuguese coach tore into his Manchester United players after the 2-1 Europa League defeat by Fenerbahce Thursday, accusing them of “not being mentally prepared, not focused and not concentrated.”
Mourinho was left fuming after his side conceded within the opening 65 seconds of the contest and fell further behind just before the hour mark when Jeremain Lens fired home a free kick.
Wayne Rooney’s late strike did little to quell Mourinho’s mood, which lead to a devastatingly honest post-match assessment in which he accused his players of treating the game as a “summer friendly.”
“A team that concedes after two minutes is a team that is not ready, not mentally prepared, not focused, not concentrated,” Mourinho told reporters.
“Our problems started in our global attitude. They were playing the Champions League final, we were playing a summer friendly. That is the reality of how the game started.
“They deserved to win, football is not just about quality, it is also about effort, commitment, playing the limits and giving everything. You have to play for 90 minutes in the maximum of your desire and concentration.
“In an atmosphere like this, to give the advantage to the opposition, that is where they want to be. They then slowed the play, putting pressure on the referee, simulating, and that is our fault.”
The defeat is the latest setback in what has been a difficult start to Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford.
United has endured a disappointing start to the Premier League season and sits eighth with 15 points from a possible 30 – that’s two less than the club had at the same stage under David Moyes in the 2013-2014 season.
It is already eight points adrift of leader and neighbor Manchester City while it was beaten 4-0 at Chelsea late last month.
Last weekend it was held to a goalless draw at Old Trafford by newly promoted Burnley despite having 37 attempts on goal.
After missing out on qualification for the Champions League last season, United took action by dismissing Louis van Gaal and appointing Mourinho.
It gave him a hefty budget with the club bringing in Paul Pogba from Juventus for $116 million, while it also spent big money on Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian made an appearance in Istanbul, his first outing since September, and was told by Mourinho that he has “to do more” to secure regular first team football.
Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored just once in his past 11 games, while Rooney continues to struggle and is unlikely to start against Swansea in the league on Sunday.
It’s not just the players who are failing to impress on the field, Mourinho himself as been in hot water with the authorities.
The 53-year-old has been banned for one match and fined £58,000 ($72,400) for two separate offenses.
He was sent to the stands by referee Mark Clattenburg for an incident “in or around the tunnel area during halftime” of the 0-0 draw with Burnley.
Mourinho will be not be allowed to be on the touchline at Swansea and will have to pay an £8,000 ($10,000) fine.
He was also fined £50,000 ($62,000) for comments he made about referee Anthony Taylor ahead of United’s draw at Liverpool.
Add to that the recent reports that he’s struggling to adapt to living away from his family in a Manchester hotel, and it’s clear to see that all is not well.
For some former ex-United players, such as Paul Scholes, the current situation is becoming increasingly frustrating.
“We’ve had quite a painful three years and I think the next 18 months to two years could be very similar until this manager has three, four transfer windows to really get a team he wants,” Scholes told BT Sport.
“This team in two years will be unrecognizable from what it is now. I’ve been depressed for a couple of years, it doesn’t matter anymore.
“There are three or four better teams in the Premier League, we know this team is not capable of challenging for the Premier League. Whatever United do in the next 18 months is a bonus.”