Sport Soccer

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Mourinho preferred Man United's one-goal second half to their two-goal first

Jose Mourinho's side have won all three games in 2018
Jose Mourinho's side have won all three games in 2018

Manchester United may have eased to a 3-0 victory over Stoke at Old Trafford on Monday night, but only their second-half performance left Jose Mourinho truly satisfied.

United maintained their 100 per cent start to 2018 as they responded to Manchester City's first Premier League loss of the season to cut the leaders' advantage to 12 points.

The Potters, led by interim boss Eddie Niedzwiecki with Paul Lambert watching on from the stands ahead of taking over on Tuesday, only really threatened after Antonio Valencia had opened the scoring in the ninth minute, and Anthony Martial's 10th goal of the season ensured the hosts were 2-0 up by half-time.

Yet it was the second-half showing, when Romelu Lukaku added a third, that really pleased Mourinho as United earned their third straight victory of the calendar year.

"I didn't like the first half, I only like two amazing goals," Mourinho said.

"But I think we were confident and organised but a bit slow. I think Ed tried to bring a positive team with three football players in midfield to try to play plus (Xherdan) Shaqiri was also coming there.

"They had the ball and it was difficult for us to press them. They had more chances than I would have liked them to have had in the first half.

"We scored two amazing goals and for me that was the good thing of the first half.

"Second half, totally different. We missed lots of chances because we accelerate the game. We recover the ball faster, we didn't let them play. (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling brought the line up so that it was impossible for Peter Crouch to put a foot in the box.

"In the second half, we played confidently and fast and aggressive and I liked the second half."

Stoke, who axed Mark Hughes earlier this month, had made the surprise appointment of Lambert just hours before the game on Monday and the ex-Norwich and Aston Villa boss was at Old Trafford to witness what he has taken on.

The Potters were unable to move out of the relegation zone and have now conceded 50 goals in 23 Premier League games, more than anyone else in the division.

But having heard Lambert's name chanted by a fanbase who might have been underwhelmed by his appointment, interim boss Niedzwiecki called for an end to the doom and gloom around the bet365 Stadium.

"I thought they showed the new manager some really encouraging signs," he said.

"It really needs the club to pull together now. There's been too much negativity, too much.

"As an old manager said to me, if they are all pulling the bell in the same way then the bell will ring. If they are not pulling the bell the same way, it won't ring and then you've got a problem. End of story."

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport