Jose Mourinho has questioned why his players do not have the desire to kill games off against smaller opposition after a humiliating defeat to Championship side Derby County in the League Cup.
Manchester United went ahead in just the third minute through Juan Mata after a nice move from the Reds. Yet they allowed Derby back into the game as Harry Wilson netted from a beautifully struck.
Derby took the lead in the second half late on and Man United were fortunate to take it to penalties as Marouane Fellaini headed home. Mourinho’s side were poor throughout the game, other than that early goal. He insisted that his players have to start respecting opponents more.
“My words at half-time were similar to my words against Wolves, where I told players that we need to close it. But again, we concede one goal,” Mourinho said.
It’s a common issue with United, under Mourinho and also his predecessors Louis van Gaal and David Moyes. United had it against Wolves, where they took an undeserved lead but let their opposition back into the game.
“We started creating more chances [after the equaliser]. Then comes the red card, then you are in more trouble and they scoured the goal,” Mourinho continued.
“A reaction of pride, of desire, of trying [came after the goal]. Even with one player less we get the equaliser and the penalty shoot-out is a lottery. We missed one.
“We knew that if we go past the seven[th penalty] we were going to be in trouble with Jones, with Eric [Bailly] and with Lee [Grant].”
Mourinho is right to question his players inability to kill games off. It’s a recurring issue.
“The question is why not before, why we have always to get the equaliser of the opponent to then have that reaction,” Mourinho explained to MUTV.
“Because we have the reaction after they equalised. That’s the question. A sad but calm dressing room now.
“We are speaking about why there is not that determination to go and kill [the game off].
“We are playing against good teams with good young players with speed with intensity.
“They want to press. We need to respect, and to match that kind of mentality. We have to educate ourselves to be mentally stronger.”
Yet Mourinho is clearly responsible for the players’ performance to an extent. He has been at Old Trafford for three seasons and this has been a problem throughout his time in charge. With huge amounts of money spent, and huge amounts of time in training, it still hasn’t been fixed.