Sunday 22 September 2019

Jose Mourinho sees only positives in defence as Man United manager launches attack on 'cry-baby' counterparts

LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 17: Manager Jose Mourinho of Manchester United speaks during a press conference in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 17: Manager Jose Mourinho of Manchester United speaks during a press conference in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hit back at his critics after his side secured a 1-0 Champions League away win against Benfica and he appeared to aim a thinly veiled attack at his Premier League rivals in his post match press conference.

Marcus Rashford’s 64th minute free-kick goal after a mistake from youthful Benfica keeper Mile Svilar was enough to seal a valuable away win in Portugal, but there were questions marks about the entertainment levels provided by Mourinho’s team once again.

The United boss was stung by fierce criticism of his tactics in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield and he vented some of his frustrations after this latest win, as he argued those questioning him are misguided.

“Sometimes I feel to be good defensively is a crime, but this is not a crime,” stated Mourinho. “We were in control. We were very solid defensively and we are victory away from winning the group. This is now 12 matches, ten wins, two draws and nine clean sheets. We are not bad.”

Mourinho then appeared to aim a verbal jibe at some of his rivals - and possibly Chelsea manager Antonio Conte - as he suggested he will not use his current injury crisis as an excuse for his side’s uncertain displays.

United went into the game against Benfica without defenders Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, midfielders Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as he hinted those absentees are part of the reason why his team are struggling to hit top form.

“Other managers cry and cry and cry - I don't cry,” declared Mourinho. “The way to do it is ignore the players who are injured, to give confidence to the players are available. I never speak about injuries.

“We don't have Zlatan, Pogba, Fellaini, Marcos Rojo. I can cry, but I don't, so we do it with what we have. We went to Liverpool with two midfield players and nothing else. We brought the kid on today, Scott McTominay, because I had no other solution.”

Conte was asked about Mourinho's comments when the hen the subject was broached after Chelsea's 3-3 draw with Roma, after several weeks of media comments from the Blues boss suggesting his ambitions are being restricted by injury problems and his response suggested he was less than amused by the snipes.

"A lot of time Mourinho has to see what happens at Chelsea," Conte said. "A lot of time, also last season. I think he has to think about his team and stop... to look at himself, not the others."

Mourinho also offered up an update on Marcus Rashford’s fitness levels, after he picked up a knee injury in another eye-catching performance against the Portuguese champions.

“I thought it was cramps, I thought it was a bit of fatigue, but no it was something he felt in his knee. I hope nothing too bad,” added the United boss.

Rashford walked through the media mixed zone after the game without the need for crutches.

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