Sunday 25 August 2019

Jose Mourinho takes thinly-veiled swipe at pundits in response to Manchester United criticism

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho suggests Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford cannot play in the same team
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho suggests Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford cannot play in the same team

Jack de Menezes

Jose Mourinho took a thinly-veiled swipe at pundits who have criticised his style of football at Manchester United in the wake of the 2-0 Champions League victory over Benfica that puts his side on the cusp of qualifying for the last-16.

The United manager has not been in the best of moods this week since the 1-0 victory over Tottenham last Saturday, having faced criticism for employing negative tactics and seeing a fan backlash against striker Romelu Lukaku for his mini-goal drought.

Lukaku’s blank against Benfica stretched his run of games without scoring to six, and Mourinho had the chance to gift him an opportunity to score when United were handed two penalties, only for Anthony Martial and Daley Blind to take them.

Mourinho defended his decision making – though accepted that the selection of Martial was a bad one as he missed his spot-kick – and asked why he was being doubted when United had picked up another victory that puts them one point away from guaranteeing qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

However, his biggest annoyance has come from past footballers-turned-pundits who have publicly criticised his style since arriving at Old Trafford. One such example came from former United midfielder Paul Scholes, who believes that United are “incapable of brilliant attacking football” while Mourinho is manager.

And asked for his view on the match, Mourinho simply replied: “No.”

When pushed further, he added: “It is better for the specialists to comment on the game than for me to give my opinion.

“I'm paid to work and do my best, which I do every day, and the specialists are paid to comment on my work so let them.”

The comments were an obvious response to the numerous pundits that have spoken critically of United this season, even though they have only lost once in the Premier League and have an unblemished record in Europe upon their return to the competition.

Mourinho has also had to deal with a number of injury setbacks, with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini sidelined and his defence regularly rotating due to small knocks suffered by the likes of Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling.

For that reason, Mourinho decided to hand young midfielder Scott McTominay his European debut against Benfica, and the Portuguese was pleased with how the 20-year-old dealt with the occasion.

“I'm more than happy,” Mourinho added. “We changed a lot of players, we broke the natural dynamic of the team and the routines of the team. We played a kid from the academy. We scored two goals and didn’t concede.

“Three more points, 12 [in the group stage], more money for the club because every victory means money.”

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