Juan Mata has admitted that Manchester United were simply not good enough against West Bromwich Albion, bemoaning the lack of pace in the home side’s display.
The hosts should have had a penalty and Romelu Lukaku’s header required a brilliant save from Ben Foster, but they hardly stretched West Brom’s back four.
Old Trafford grew restless as the game went on and James Rodriguez’s goal midway through the second half, which gave Manchester City the title, topped off an afternoon of misery for the red side of Manchester.
And Mata, speaking after the game, was unable to explain what went so terribly wrong, noting that United simply didn’t play.
Mata: “There’s no excuses today. Bad day for everyone. We understand the fans frustration. It was a slow game and we didn’t play at all. I don’t know why. After winning against City, we wanted to keep going with good spirit, but today was one of those days.” #mufc [Sky]
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) April 15, 2018
United have been at their best this season when the onus hasn’t been on them to attack, or when it seems like the opposition are more likely to score goals: Arsenal away, Everton away, Liverpool at home, City away. All those games created perfect conditions for a Mourinho-esque counter-attacking performance.
When the pressure has been on them to deliver, however, as was the case here as well as against Sevilla and City at home, United have not just fallen short but done so with a whimper, with no clear idea.
It is a deficiency which goes deeper than tactics; this is a mental bloc set in motion by Mourinho and propagated by the players, and it needs to change.