Sunday 16 December 2018

Mourinho shows frustration at ‘quiet stadium’

United beat Huddersfield 2-0 but manager renewed criticism of Old Trafford atmosphere.

Jose Mourinho wanted more from the Old Trafford crowd
Jose Mourinho wanted more from the Old Trafford crowd

By Phil Medlicott, Press Association Sport

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho once again criticised the atmosphere at Old Trafford after Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.

Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring in the 55th minute before Alexis Sanchez marked his United home debut with his first goal for the club.

Asked afterwards about Sanchez, Mourinho said: “He played only three (matches since joining from Arsenal) and the first at Old Trafford, and I think Old Trafford, in spite of being a quiet stadium, the pitch is big, the grass is nice and obviously the players feel very comfortable playing here.”

Manchester United v Huddersfield Town – Premier League – Old Trafford

When then asked to explain his comments, Mourinho replied: “It’s not Portsmouth.

“I remember Portsmouth – such a small stadium, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible. In here, the atmosphere is a bit quiet and there is not very (much enthusiasm). But the players like to play at home.”

Already this season, Mourinho’s comments about the atmosphere at Old Trafford have included him saying United supporters were “very quiet” during the 2-0 win over Leicester in August.

He also, after the 1-0 win over Tottenham in October, expressed his unhappiness with United fans over what he regarded as unfair treatment of Lukaku.

Following Lukaku’s fine left-footed finish on Saturday, Sanchez got on the scoresheet when he tucked the loose ball in having seen his penalty attempt – a spot-kick he had won – parried by Jonas Lossl.

Sanchez put in a lively individual display overall, and Mourinho said: “He was really enjoying the dynamic of the team and the dynamic he was giving to the team.

“I don’t think it is a dream goal for Alexis – every player prefers to score a penalty. But it also shows his attention to detail, his reaction and his desire. So for me, that’s fine.”

Mourinho felt it had been a “solid” team performance from United in a match that was preceded by a minute’s silence for the victims of the Munich air disaster – the 60th anniversary of which is on Tuesday – and saw the players wearing black armbands as a mark of respect.

The Portuguese opted to drop Paul Pogba from his starting XI three days on from the 2-0 away loss to Tottenham, bringing in Scott McTominay, with Phil Jones also left out.

Mourinho said of the decision: “I changed a few players and the intention was not to punish anyone.

“I made a few changes thinking about the characteristics of this game.

“Paul is a fantastic player – no doubt for me one of the most talented midfield players in the world. But to sit on the bench one day (Pogba came on in the 65th minute) is not the end of the world.”

Mourinho also gave an update on Marouane Fellaini’s knee injury, saying: “He had surgery this morning. It is not the end of the season, not at all.

“It is a small intervention in his external meniscus and I want to believe by the end of March he can be back.”

While the gap between second-placed United and leaders Manchester City is now 13 points, Huddersfield have dropped into the relegation zone.

David Wagner, right, shakes hands with Mourinho after the game

Terriers boss David Wagner said: ”I don’t like that we are now in the bottom three but to be totally honest, I think it makes it easier because now we are the team who can chase the other ones.

“We don’t have to look behind the shoulders, we can look forward. We have known these are difficult fixtures – Liverpool at home (a 3-0 loss on Tuesday) and today, in four days.

“Now we have very important fixtures against teams which are around us.”

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