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Saturday 22 July 2017

Jose takes aim at critics as United close gap

Manchester United’s Juan Mata celebrates scoring his side’s third goal in the Premier League win at Leicester Picture: Reuters
Manchester United’s Juan Mata celebrates scoring his side’s third goal in the Premier League win at Leicester Picture: Reuters

Manchester United took apart Leicester's shambolic defence, giving Jose Mourinho's men a timely shot in the arm as the reigning champions' descent continued.

Leicester ended the weekend just a point off the drop zone after United condemned them to a fourth consecutive top-flight loss, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata racking up a 3-0 win as comfortable as it sounds.

Victory saw the Red Devils bring the Champions League spots within two points as Mourinho's players responded to his calls to be more clinical, ending a frustrating run of three straight league draws in the process.

United moved to within a point of the top five after yesterday's comfortable win extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 15 matches.

Mourinho won the title three times with Chelsea and was irked that while his style seems to be welcomed now, it was not previously.

Ruthless

He said: "My team is playing very well but for many many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and when they were phenomenal defensively and very good in the counter attack I listened week after week it was not enough, in spite of winning the title three times.

"It looks like this season to be phenomenal defensively and be good at counter attack is art so it's a big change in England.

"I don't want to change the profile of our play. This is the way we want to play. I don't want to be the manager of a team that plays very well, creates chance and doesn't win matches. We need to score goals and today we did."

Mourinho lost his job as Chelsea boss after last season's 2-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium and could not resist a joke at his own expense. He said: "The last time I was sat in this chair, the next day I was sacked!"

Mkhitaryan's exceptional run and finish saw United break the deadlock three minutes before the end of a tight first half, with Ibrahimovic's first-time strike 88 seconds later giving them a comfortable lead at the break.

Leicester needed to respond but Ranieri's men wilted under the King Power Stadium floodlights and Mata, who was perhaps fortunate not to receive a first-half red card, turned home four minutes after the restart.

There were no further blows to fragile Leicester's confidence but the manner and margin of this loss means all eyes are on the reigning champions, whose efforts were booed at the final whistle. Kasper Schmeichel, meanwhile, admits Leicester's Premier League title defence has been "embarrassing" and believes his side are in serious danger of being relegated.

He said: "It's not a situation that's comfortable at all. We're the reigning champions and quite frankly it's been terrible, it's been embarrassing.

"It's not good enough and it sums our season up at the moment. Let's not talk about last season, last season's gone, as you can clearly see.

"We have to improve right now. It's time for every single one of us, right from the top to the bottom of this club to stand up and be counted because if we don't we're going to end up getting relegated and nobody wants that."

When asked about a supposed rift between some of Leicester's players and manager Claudio Ranieri, Schmeichel added: "I'm not going to comment on any newspaper speculation. I know what's going on in the dressing room. We're a group of players who are low on confidence but certainly not low on fight. We'll fight to the end, whatever that might be but I can guarantee every player in there is hurting."

Despite their struggles boss Ranieri insisted the squad remained united.

He added: "We aren't happy, we are sad but it's important to react. We were solid, strong and united last season, it is the same this season but without the results. We are together, we are solid."

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