Saturday 21 September 2019

Jose bemoans a lack of mad dogs as United fall flat again

Manchester United’s goalkeeper David De Gea can’t reach the ball as Southampton’s Cedric Soares finds the net from a free-kick for his side’s second goal. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP
Manchester United’s goalkeeper David De Gea can’t reach the ball as Southampton’s Cedric Soares finds the net from a free-kick for his side’s second goal. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho pointed an accusing finger at his misfiring midfielders after his side's latest limp display ended in a 2-2 draw at Southampton. United struggled to get out of first gear for most of a game that saw them fall 2-0 behind in the opening 20 minutes, with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera papering over the cracks in a poor display.

Paul Pogba was more guilty than most of giving the ball away consistently and Mourinho didn't hold back as he identified why his team came up short against relegation-threatened opponents.

"I think we lost so many balls in midfield, so many balls to the last third, that we couldn't have the attacking continuity," said Mourinho. "In the second half we went back to the pattern of losing too many balls in the midfield and the players don't understand that simplicity is genius. They keep going to complicated football. Marcus Rashford and Phil Jones and many others did credit to the shirt they wear, but this was not the outcome we wanted."

Mourinho went on to suggest his midfield lacks warriors who will put the opposition under pressure, with his comments delivered after Pogba turned in one of his worst displays of the season.

"We don't have many mad dogs in midfield who will press the ball," he added. "Choices when they have the ball. What we needed to improve in this game was make it simple in midfield. One touch, two touch. Keep it simple."

A much-changed Manchester City side moved five points clear at the top of the table for 24 hours at least as second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan saw off a battling Bournemouth team.

"Winning that way, we suffered a lot in the first half, especially in the last 20 minutes," said City boss Pep Guardiola. "The opponents are a good side, so strong in front, we could not press. They played long balls, attacked the channels.

"They are taller than us and stronger than us. That can happen. The last 20 minutes we were flat, not the rhythm we need but it is normal. That is why I am delighted to win in that way. Everything is so tough."

Guardiola admitted he struggled to find a solution until a mazy run from Sterling - which ended with his shot rebounding off the post - lifted City spirits eight minutes into the second half.

"We spoke about it at half-time but my speech was ridiculous," Guardiola said. "It didn't work because the first five or 10 minutes was like the first half. In the first half Raheem was not there but then he makes a slalom and changes the game."

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