Mourinho rues 'four mistakes in 15 seconds'
Tottenham 2 Manchester Utd 0
Jose Mourinho said his Manchester United side lost at Tottenham Hotspur because of a "ridiculous" goal that brought a remarkable "four mistakes" in just 10.5 seconds, as he criticised players for failing to follow any of their pre-game plans.
Christian Eriksen scored the third quickest goal in Premier League history to set up a brilliant victory, but the Portuguese said they came from atrociously self-inflicted errors, and tactically set up Mauricio Pochettino's side to do what they do best.
The match became so one-sided that Mourinho eventually hauled off Paul Pogba and admitted new signing Alexis Sanchez dropped too deep on his Premier League debut, but said Marouane Fellaini's substitution - after a mere six minutes - was down to injury.
It really did just add to how insulted the United boss looked and sounded by that opening goal, that came straight from kick-off.
"I don't think it's very normal to concede a goal like we did after 15 seconds," Mourinho said. "We did that last season at Stamford Bridge, this season we had one that was after one minute, from a free-kick but after kick off is ridiculous, especially ridiculous because the players watch it before, we analyse opponents, we work on their dynamic, routines, the players knew the long ball, that Harry Kane is normally inside the opponent's half before kick-off, we knew everything and then… we don't press the ball. One mistake.
"We don't win the ball in the air. Second mistake. We don't win the second ball on the ground. Third mistake. We don't cover inside, the full-back inside when Eriksen comes. Four mistakes. Four mistakes after 15 seconds and you are losing 1-0 against a good team.
"And then a good reaction, we played in their half, we create something, the feeling was we are in the game but the second goal I don't say ridiculous I say unlucky.
"It's a different thing than ridiculous and after that Tottenham has the game in their hands and they are very good in counter attack, they press well."
United were being so overrun in the midfield that Mourinho took off Pogba after just 63 minutes, only to then take off his replacement Fellaini just six minutes later, but put the latter down to injury
"Injured. I think it's the same, continuously the same injury, the first time, second time and now the third time, it's always lateral ligament.
"(Pogba) just change for Fellaini, try different qualities with different players."
It made for a miserable Premier League debut for Sanchez.
"He worked hard," Mourinho said. "But, again, the transformation the game had, the game was not for him and in the second half I try to give him a position where he could be more close to [Romelu] Lukaku but then he felt the need to drop too much and he was dropping too much to try to organise.
"But he gave everything, good effort and is a good feeling for me to know a player is available with that spirit."
Mourinho re-iterated that the title is barely worth talking about, instead pointing to the race for the top four is much more relevant as it became so much more congested, in contrast to the 15-point gap from United to Manchester City. The gap between United and fifth-placed Tottenham meanwhile is now just five points.
"I always thought that when the leader is with a certain distance - I have been there a few times - you are calm, you are relaxed, you do not feel the pressure, you know your opponent, sooner or later, is going to drop at least a couple of points and you are completely in control.
"So yes, we play match after match, yes the Premier League finishes for us last match in May versus Watford but we knew, you knew, the distance to the leader was already considerable before this match.
"Now we have us, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal, we will be there fighting for positions."
Once again, Spurs look like they are going to be hugely dangerous in the Premier League's final stretch for the third season in a row, just as they make the Champions League chase hugely congested by bringing the gap between fifth and second from eight to five.
It really could have been a greater gap on the night, maybe 5-0, as Spurs produced a display as sensational as in their wins here over Real Madrid and Liverpool - bar the finishing.
Their goals came from that freakishly fast start, and a Phil Jones own goal but both still reflected the relentless nature of their play, as they went on to create - and waste - chance after chance. It was only the misses that spared United a bad beating.
Much of the talk around United in the summer had been about how Nemanja Matic was the piece of the jigsaw required to really maximise Pogba and release Mourinho. As the Serbian's form has declined and he watches players just running past him, though, it now seems he needs… another final piece of the jigsaw.
That in itself reflects something of Mourinho's thinking, and leads to the second question. It seems the United manager just can't set up an attacking team without sacrificing too much defensively. Maybe it's why he so often reverts to the sort of defensive formations which he trusts.
Last night, neither Mourinho's usual defensive solidity nor the United's attacking threat were on display. After a fine start to the year, this was a rude awakening. (© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service