Friday 24 May 2019

Mourinho slams players as West Ham twist the knife

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

Andy Sims

Jose Mourinho hit out at the 'mentality' of some of his players after Manchester United crashed 3-1 at West Ham yesterday, a defeat that ramps up the pressure on the manager.

United have just 10 points from their opening seven Premier League games, and languish in mid-table, with even the Champions League places looking a long way off at this early stage.

Mourinho left the under-performing Alexis Sanchez out of his squad for the game at the London Stadium and then revealed his decision to start with a back three, including midfielder Scott McTominay, was to accommodate Anthony Martial.

But Martial was hauled off with 20 minutes remaining, along with Paul Pogba, as Felipe Anderson's early flick, a Victor Lindelof own-goal and Marko Arnautovic's neat finish left United empty-handed.

And Mourinho's glowing praise of youngster McTominay gave the distinct impression that he was sending a message to certain other players.

"I wanted to play Martial, it's something (people) are asking for a long, long, long time," he said. "I left Alexis out, and Martial is not a player very focused on his defensive duties so to play him as second striker would be easier for him.

"But at the same time I felt we needed quality on the ball, building from the back, and Scott McTominay has that quality. Everything that left his foot was correct. He's a special character, a special personality that a team in a negative moment needs.

"Do my other players have that mentality? Not all of them. Everybody is a different person. Scott McTominay is kid with a special character, very humble, aggressive in a positive way, brave, he's a special kid."

Unfortunately for United the back three found a West Ham front three - Anderson, Arnautovic and Andriy Yarmolenko - in blistering form.

West Ham, buoyed by a fortnight which had seen them take four points from Everton and Chelsea before putting eight past Macclesfield in the Carabao Cup, were ahead after only five minutes.

Pablo Zabaleta was slipped in behind Luke Shaw down United's left and his low cross was met at the near post with a deft backheel from Anderson.

Mourinho claimed Zabaleta was offside, and that the same defender fouled Marcus Rashford in the build-up to Arnautovic's late goal, which came moments after substitute Rashford had halved the deficit. But he did admit defensive errors were to blame for Yarmolenko's shot looping into the top corner off Lindelof just before half-time.

"I've not seen the goals yet," said West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, "but we scored three, United had two opportunities. Otherwise I don't remember any tense moments in our box. The result reflects what happened in the 90 minutes."

On the absence of his fellow Chilean, Pellegrini added: "I was surprised about no Alexis Sanchez. That was a relief because Alexis makes a difference. They have very decisive players in the last metres, but I think Alexis gives a little bit more."

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