Wednesday 23 January 2019

Mourinho lays off ref and into his defenders

Referee Craig Pawson. Photo: Getty Images
Referee Craig Pawson. Photo: Getty Images

Martin Hardy

Jose Mourinho turned on his Manchester United defenders after watching them crash to defeat at St James' Park - a ground where he has still to win a Premier League game.

Mourinho's men were undone in the 65th minute when they failed to deal with a Jonjo Shelvey free-kick that was eventually hammered past David de Gea by Matt Ritchie.

The Manchester United manager immediately withdrew Paul Pogba - their £89m signing who was labelled a "schoolboy" by Graeme Souness before the match.

However, Mourinho saved his criticism for those defenders who had not done their job in the only goal of an enthralling game, ignoring the decision of referee Craig Pawson, who booked Chris Smalling for diving.

"I don't like to complain about referees in this kind of situation," he said. "I don't know if it's a free-kick. What I know is we missed a challenge in the air and missed the second ball.

"I coach my payers - I don't coach the referees. I have to be more disappointed with my players for losing that challenge.

"We train, we work, we organise. The players have their individual jobs in defence or not. They know their responsibilities.

"A lateral free-kick is not even a lateral free-kick from a dangerous position. It's really far from the goal. We miss the challenge in the air.

"I remember clearly without television, but just with my memory from the touchline, a Newcastle player jumping and two of my players looking at him and staying on the floor.

"A defender has to concede free-kicks now and again. It was an intuitive thing. Players (who do it) in the box deserve a card more than Smalling in that situation.

"Clearly, I know we lost the duel in the air and it's difficult to accept that."

On Pogba, Mourinho added: "I don't analyse players individually. There's no problem with Pogba. I wanted a better way to come out against a compact team by bringing out Michael Carrick. He makes everything simple."

Newcastle produced their greatest display of the season in victory, and the Man United boss was effusive in his praise.

"They went to the limit with their sacrifice, which managers like to see," he added.

"Newcastle fought like animals. Animals is a good word. It's a compliment. They gave everything they had. They fought like animals. We made a mistake, but then they gave their lives to keep a clean sheet.

"They came here today to fight for a point, but they found themselves in a position of being one-nil and in that moment they went over all the limits of the effort, the sacrifice, of everything a manager likes to see.

"The gods of football were clearly on their side. They must have an amazing feeling after giving absolutely everything."

Rafa Benitez praised the spirit and unity of his side.

"Today it was just a question of passion and commitment from everyone," said the Newcastle manager.

"My message to our fans, and I think they know it really well, is that this is a team that cares."

© Independent News Service

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