Jose Mourinho claimed that he “didn’t learn anything” from Manchester United’s defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla on Wednesday.
Man United produced a typically insipid first half performance, devoid of structure or urgency, during which they went 1-0 down.
Phil Jones scored an outrageous own goal to double Valencia’s advantage before Marcus Rashord pulled a goal back amid a late flurry of chances for the visitors.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho declared that nothing surprised him about the way his team played in Spain.
“I didn’t learn anything from this game, nothing that happened surprise me at all,” he said. “No no no.”
“Before the game I told the players if we win tonight and Juventus win we did our job if we don’t win and Juventus doesn’t win, we can blame ourselves.
“In the end my team improved when I made the changes I didn’t want to make. Which is a little bit of frustration because I didn’t want to play the three players I played in the second-half.”
Mourinho is likely referring to the way his players, once again, shot themselves in the foot – much like how they conceded two strange goals against Arsenal last week.
This is frustrating because it indicates Mourinho, as a manager and tactician, refuses to interrogate United’s performances at a deeper, more structural level. To him, the result is all that matters. And if Jones hadn’t gone full on Jones, and Mata had scored from that glorious chance towards the end, then the result would have been different.
But to focus on those superficial aspects of a 90 minute game means ignoring the fundamental problems with his team’s approach. Nothing will improve for as long as this happens, and probably get even worse.