Jose Mourinho has voiced his frustration with the failure of Manchester United players to keep things simple in the middle against Southampton.
The 55-year-old’s side once again started awfully, conceding twice in 20 minutes, before goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera restored parity by half time.
But the second half performance was totally directionless, with United failing to carve out even one meaningful effort on goal.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho blamed his players for not playing simple – clearly a thinly veiled attack on Paul Pogba, who took too many touches on the ball at St Mary’s.
Jose: “Lost too many balls in midfield. The players don’t understand simplicity is genius.”
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 1, 2018
United would, of course, benefit tremendously from avoiding the kind of reductio ad absurdum passing which becomes so predictable you can actually visualise it with your eyes closed.
What Mourinho fails to understand, however, is that simple football can only happen when you have a team which plays on the same wavelength. A well organised attacking team requires maybe two or three well placed, properly timed passes to get in behind a defence. United just aimlessly pass themselves to death.
Simplicity on the ball, in other words, requires a nuanced and mastered attacking structure underpinning everything. You need movement off the ball. You need players breaking the lines with passes. You need teammates to know explicitly where to play the ball in any given situation. You need, above all, a bit or urgency in possession, a spring to your step. You need confidence and cool heads. You need a team which has played together regularly.
Under Mourinho, there is absolutely none of that.