Jose Mourinho felt the need to cite past Champions League knockout victories at Old Trafford with Porto and Real Madrid following Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Sevilla.
Having played for a draw in Seville – a decision critiqued by many but not seen as fatal – Man United needed a win against the La Liga side to progress to the quarter-finals.
But they crumbled at home, unable to create any attacking momentum, dominated in the middle, and ultimately dumped out by two Wassim Ben Yedder goals in four minutes.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, actually had the nerve to say this.
Mou: "I've sat in this chair twice before, with Porto – Man Utd out, with Real Madrid – Man Utd out, so this is nothing new for this football club." #MUFC
— Kris Voakes (@krisvoakes) March 13, 2018
Make no mistake: this defeat – the manner in which United went out of Europe with a whimper – followed by this quote will have severed the trust of many supporters in Mourinho for good.
It is not only a dangerous example of the 55-year-old’s conceit overriding ambition at critical times; it is actively self-aggrandising at the worst possible moment.
His point, I guess, is that Man United, even under Sir Alex Ferguson, have been knocked out of the Champions League in the past – a classic attempt to distance himself from blame by contextualising the defeat on a wider scale.
But, of course, it misses the point. United have indeed gone out of Europe before, but never in a manner as overtly torpid as that. Even with David Moyes at the helm his side went out of this competition fighting.
That, on the other hand, was inexcusable – an insult to the club, the Champions League, to competitive sport itself. You can only hope it sparks some change in Mourinho’s mindset, but for some reason I doubt that very much.