Saturday 19 January 2019

Jose throws in title towel

United boss tells side to focus on second spot as leaders City ‘don’t feel pressure’

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gestures during Wednesday night’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gestures during Wednesday night’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley
United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is consoled by Jose Mourinho after suffering an injury against Spurs
Alexis Sanchez

Jose Mourinho has told his Manchester United side to concentrate on beating Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur to second place, believing runaway leaders Manchester City are not feeling any pressure at the top of the Premier League.

Mourinho watched his side crash to a 2-0 defeat to Spurs at Wembley on Wednesday in an abject display that had the Portuguese fuming.

To make his night worse, United's bitter rivals City stretched their lead at the summit to 15 points, Mourinho's focus now on cementing the runners-up spot.

He said: "We lost. I always told that when the leader (in the table) is with a certain distance, I've been there a few times, you are calm, you're relaxed, you don't feel the pressure.

"You know that your opponents sooner or later are going to drop at least a couple of points and you're completely in control, so yes we played match after match.

"Yes, the Premier League finishes for us at Old Trafford in the last match against Watford in May but we knew that the distance to the leader was already considerable, even before this match.

"Now we have us, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal - we will be there fighting for the positions."

Mourinho, who now turns his attentions to Huddersfield Town in tomorrow's Premier League clash at Old Trafford, lamented his side's lack of composure from the first whistle in midweek.

"It's a performance that starts with a ridiculous goal. That goal after a few seconds has a big influence in the game because Tottenham can play the way they like to play," he said.

"In the end, we played against a very good team. Both goals were ridiculous goals, also the second was unlucky. The first goal is an accumulation of mistakes in spite of the fact that everything happened so fast.

"My players have watched the Tottenham kick-off many, many times. They know the way they do it and they also know (Harry) Kane normally starts in a position in front of the line to win some metres. We didn't control it, lost the second ball on the ground and it was a really, really bad goal."

In what looked like a bizarre series of events when Marouane Fellaini was introduced as a second half substitute, only to be hauled off a few minutes later, the United boss insists the Belgian international got injured during his fleeting moments on the Wembley turf.

"He came off because he had something in his knee. Unlucky for him and unlucky for me. He came on with enthusiasm, but he has an injury in his ligament," he said.

"It's always the same thing. It is the lateral ligament. I don't think it's a big, big thing but he was immediately feeling something and telling us he couldn't carry on."

Mourinho, had words of praise for new signing Alexis Sanchez, who prepares to make his home debut tomorrow in a game which the Red Devils manager will seek to gain revenge for the 2-1 defeat to the Terriers at the John Smiths Stadium last October.

"Alexis worked hard, but again the transformation the game had, the game was not for him," he said.

"In the second half, I tried to give him a position where he could be closer to (Romelu) Lukaku but then he felt the need to drop too much to organise. But he gave everything, good effort and this is a good feeling for me to know that the player is available with that spirit."

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