Jose Mourinho has condemned his players for their lack of ambition against Feyenoord in the Europa League.
The 53-year-old, prior to the clash with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, made it clear that his players need to locate their motivation when it comes to the Europa League, despite the competition’s notorious unpopularity.
However, Man United fans witnessed a plodding, inert attacking display in Rotterdam that desperately lacked in zeal, culminating in a galling 1-0 away defeat.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho was evidently unhappy with his side’s lacklustre first half approach.
“I always expect maximum ambition and focus no matter the opponent,” he said.
“I am very pragmatic in my approach. I look to this game with proper eyes, I changed eight players, but I played with a good team, with enough good players to win the match.
“I think in first half we were not especially bad but we didn’t have an ambitious attitude. We were not trying to win just content with controlling the game.
“In the second half they answered my [half-time] words. It’s more disappointing that in our best moment they scored.
“Of course I’m unhappy, especially because I think we lost the game precisely in the moment we don’t deserve to lose. We were double unlucky because it’s a clear offside.”
A lack of zip, especially when playing away in Europe, can be fatal. United controlled proceedings throughout, tentatively prodding the home side, as if still coming to terms with the numerous changes by Mourinho. And before they knew it, the sucker-punch came, blowing a dumbfounded United team off their feet after such a sustained period of domination.
This defeat signalled the first outing of the season for various players, giving United’s performance an unquestionably lackadaisical veneer. The likes of Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling experienced a sapping introduction to Mourinho’s starting XI against a physically imposing Feyenoord side, often struggling with the game’s sheer intensity.
With two consecutive defeats now acting as a gloomy black-spot on an initially positive start to the season, Mourinho will be militant in ensuring that he witnesses maximum ambition against Watford on Sunday.