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Manchester United: Mourinho slams players and Mark Clattenburg; Barcelona deal was close

Manchester United: Mourinho slams players and Mark Clattenburg; Barcelona deal was close

Jose Mourinho has frequently spoken of his desire to break records at Old Trafford, but Saturday’s disappointing defeat at the hands of nemesis Pep Guardiola and Manchester City was not the kind of record he wanted to break as the Red Devils recorded just 39.9% possession, only the fourth time they have recorded less than 40% possession at the Theatre of Dreams since the stat was first calculated in 2003. That indicates that Mourinho was outthought in a tough tactical battle between the two managers.

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Shockingly, Mourinho played down the defeat in the aftermath of the fixture, saying:

“You know that in this league you are always going to lose matches and you know that especially between the big teams, three results are more than possible to happen. So I don’t open my mouth when Liverpool go and beat Arsenal at Arsenal, when City beat Man United here, when Man United beat Chelsea or Tottenham away – nobody opens their mouth with surprise because it’s a normal result.”

That is unlikely to please United fans who will be devastated by the result, but could form part of the former Chelsea bosses’ mind games as he tries to maintain the confidence levels of his squad after being convincingly dominated by their city rivals and title challengers so early on in the season.

The Portuguese boss did not hold back in his post-match reaction, slamming both his players and referee Mark Clattenburg. Mourinho made two changes from victory over Hull before the international break, but immediately reversed that decision by withdrawing Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at half-time. He criticised a number of his players after full-time, saying:

“I made a couple of decisions because I thought the individual qualities of certain players would give me what I wanted. But I didn’t get it… What I told them at half-time was: ‘For some of you, it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do.’ I had told the players 20 times never to play a first-station ball… and they did it 20 times.”

The claim is perhaps suprising given Mourinho’s previous tactics of building a close bond with his players, but it is no surprise to see the boss speaking honestly about how poorly his side performed in one of the most important fixtures of the season, particularly in the opening exchanges of the game.

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The referee also came in for criticism as Mourinho claimed that the responsibility for the defeat fell on his shoulders:

“I know the rules of the game. It’s obvious it was a penalty and a red card for Bravo… with a big possibility of 2-2 and a lot of time to go. We could have been talking about a completely different story. We were punished by our bad first half, my responsibility, and we were punished by Mark with his bad decisions in the second half.”

Mourinho is often keen to criticise referees, and that looks set to continue at Old Trafford, despite bosses pleading with him not to tarnish the reputation of the club. If he can gain influence and persuasion, it will help his efforts in the race for the title, and clearly shows how high passions and tensions were running following derby defeat.


In a surprise statement, Neymar’s agent Wagner Ribeiro has revealed that his client almost signed for the club in the summer before opting for a contract extension at Barcelona, for whom he made his first start of the season on Saturday night. The Olympic gold medal winner was linked with a move to United and PSG and the Daily Mail claim that a deal was close.

It would have shown the club pressing on with their reported ‘Galactico’ transfer policy, though it seems ludicrous to think that the club could have afforded to bring the 24-year-old as well as central midfielder Paul Pogba. How a deal for the Brazilian may have affected the Pogba deal will not be known, but it seems likely that United could be lining up very differently if Neymar had come to Manchester.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by craig ballantyne.

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