Thursday 18 January 2018

No quick fix for Mourinho as Feyenoord have all the answers

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says there are no quick fixes for his side after their defeat to Feyenoord. Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says there are no quick fixes for his side after their defeat to Feyenoord. Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic

James Ducker

"If you don't play on this surface, go home," Jose Mourinho had declared before kick-off as the Manchester United manager gushed about the quality of the pitch at the De Kuip Stadium.

Feyenoord 1 Manchester United 0

Unfortunately for Mourinho, his players fluffed their lines for the second time in six days, Feyenoord sending United packing a year to the day since they also lost on Dutch soil to PSV Eindhoven.

Mourinho had admitted beforehand that United risked embarrassment if they failed to approach the game with the right attitude and that is precisely what materialised. This was most certainly not what the Portuguese had in mind so soon after the derby defeat to Manchester City.

While Feyenoord basked in the warm glow of a memorable win and two former Liverpool players, Brad Jones and Dirk Kuyt, celebrated as hard as anyone while You'll Never Walk Alone reverberated around the ground, Mourinho trudged solemnly to the tunnel, pausing only to hold a hand out to the 1,200 United fans who had made the trip to Rotterdam, almost in apology at the limp nature of his team's performance.


After an encouraging start as United manager, successive defeats have raised plenty of questions for Mourinho, who felt his team lacked ambition and admitted there would no quick fixes and that confidence was low.

"When we won the Community Shield and the first three Premier League matches I was not on the moon, I was not saying we were a phenomenal team and we are going to destroy every opponent," Mourinho said.

"I know the situation is not a case of clicking your fingers and everything is perfect. We didn't play phenomenal matches in these two defeats, but I think we deserved more."

Feyenoord are no City but United made them look so much better than they were.

For Paul Pogba, the world's most expensive player, this was another underwhelming performance, the £89m man outshone by Karim El Ahmadi and goalscorer Tonny Vilhena in midfield.

Marcos Rojo was a liability at left-back and Anthony Martial looked cowed in attack along with Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata, all of whom were replaced in one fell swoop in the second half when Mourinho stuck centre-half Chris Smalling up front in a final throw of the dice.

Mourinho was looking for two things here. Firstly, a reaction to the derby defeat and, secondly, for those players who have been on the periphery so far this season to take the opportunity afforded them.

Neither happened. Only David De Gea, Eric Bailly and Pogba kept their place from the City game as Mourinho made eight changes and handed first starts of the campaign to five players but it was a patchy and incoherent performance that involved too many cheap turnovers of the ball.

United looked short of ideas, their movement stilted, too many players a yard off the pace or lacking conviction.

When El Ahmadi released Terence Kongolo down the left after riding Herrera's challenge in the 41st minute, the ease with which the Feyenoord left-back cut inside Matteo Darmian and roll a pass right across the edge of the penalty area to Jens Toornstra was alarming. United were fortunate Toornstra's wild first time shot sailed over.

Rojo's only contribution of note was to send over a cross that Rashford was a fraction too late meeting but, otherwise, this was a typically haphazard performance from the Argentinian.

Rojo was way up field when Nicolai Jorgensen was released down the right 11 minutes from time. The Feyenoord striker should have been ruled offside but it was not spotted by the officials and he was able to get in behind Smalling and square for Vilhena who, surging forward, drilled the ball home.


Feyenoord were tidy and assured on the ball and their build-up play was good at times but they were largely toothless in attack and even a below-par United should be dispatching teams such as this.

By the 64th minute United's entire front three was withdrawn, with Rashford, the ineffectual Martial and Mata being replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Memphis Depay and Ashley Young.

Depay was hopeless, floating a free-kick from a dangerous positions into the stands and sending a hash of a volley there, too. Young hacked wide and Ibrahimovic had a free-kick smothered but Feyenoord hardly had to withstand a siege.

This was United's fourth consecutive away defeat in Europe after losses to Liverpool, Midtjylland and Wolfsburg and Mourinho really does need to return to winning ways at Watford on Sunday.

"We go back to a normal team, obviously without so many changes," Mourinho said, bluntly. That alone said enough. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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