Saturday 16 February 2019

Jose Mourinho retains support of Manchester United hierarchy

The Portuguese is under pressure after a poor start to the Premier League season.

Jose Mourinho is under pressure after a poor start to the season (Nick Potts/PA)
Jose Mourinho is under pressure after a poor start to the season (Nick Potts/PA)

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Jose Mourinho still retains the support of the Manchester United hierarchy despite a chastening start to the season that Paul Pogba is confident will not see them swept away.

After a summer of discontent, United have lost two of their first three matches of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 1992-93.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men went on to win the title that season, but there are few signs that under-fire Mourinho can lead the team to league glory this term.

As if the woeful 3-2 loss at Brighton was not enough, the Portuguese tasted the heaviest home defeat of his managerial career as Tottenham ran out 3-0 victors at Old Trafford on Monday.

Odds on Mourinho leaving have tumbled but Press Association Sport understands that United are continuing to back their manager amid the growing storm of scrutiny.

The former Chelsea boss certainly has work to do before Sunday’s trip to Burnley given the way his side were ruthlessly carved open by Spurs as a bright start became a distant memory.

“Even we don’t understand what happened,” United midfielder Pogba said. “We started the game really well, we conceded two goals in the second half.

“The first goal was a real blow, we didn’t understand why, because we had the game in hand. One goal, two…we kept pushing, we had chances, and we conceded the third.

“The fans kept pushing us, they were really behind us. We feel really sorry for them, very disappointed, we wanted to do better.

“I think it was an undeserved defeat for us, in our desire, in everything we put into it. But football can be cruel. We just have to bounce back.”

United desperately need to return to winning ways at Turf Moor to ease the pressure heading into the international break.

Last season’s runners-up already find themselves six points off the summit, but Pogba is keeping calm and focused amid the storm.

“It won’t be easy, but it’s just the start of the season,” he said. “I prefer to start badly and end well than start well and finish badly.

“It’s bizarre. (Against Tottenham) we were determined, we started well, and in the end we lost 3-0. It’s a shock.”

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Paul Pogba, centre, could not help United prevent defeat against Spurs (Nick Potts/PA)

Pogba’s commitment to the United cause is a welcome boost in an uncomfortable period when his happiness is one of a variety of matters hanging over the club.

Goalkeeper David De Gea also indicated United’s players are committed to driving the club forward when alongside a picture of a team photograph on his social media accounts he wrote: “United now more than ever.”

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United now more than ever 🔴

A post shared by David De Gea (@d_degeaofficial) on

Some disgruntled fans have intended to fly a plane over the ground against Burnley calling for the exit of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, while Mourinho is favourite to become the first top-flight manager to leave his post.

The United boss has struck an unhappy figure since returning for pre-season, venting his spleen on matters varying from player fitness to professionalism and the need for reinforcements, particularly in defence.

The pressure appears to be making its impact on Mourinho, who stormed out of his post-match press conference on Monday demanding respect.

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Ed Woodward is the subject of some fan backlash at United (Martin Rickett/PA)

But the United boss has not lost the board or fans just yet, with the 55-year-old showing his appreciation to the latter by applauding the Stretford End for several minutes after the Spurs game.

Some around the club are understood to have initially wondered whether it was a farewell, but Mourinho explained it was merely an expression of gratitude.

“I went inside the pitch because normally I am the first person to leave the pitch when my team wins,” Mourinho told MUTV.

“But my team lost and the players deserved that they are in the middle of the pitch with me, so I went in the middle of the pitch for my players but then the fans had such an amazing reaction to the boys.

“I had to thank them on behalf of everyone.”

Press Association

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