Jose Mourinho was complimentary about a couple of United players after his Tottenham side fell to defeat at Old Trafford.
But as often with Mourinho, his kindness was laced with a bitter tone, and it didn’t take long for him to have a jab at United tactics.
Mourinho was quoted by The Mirror: “United results against the best teams this season have been good. Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester. For the way they play it is easier for them. They are not afraid to have a defensive approach. It is easier for them against better teams, against teams who want more of the ball.”
The former United boss isn’t wrong that United’s counter attacking style has produced better results against the top teams. We have struggled against so-called lesser sides like Newcastle and Aston Villa.
Yet Mourinho sounded a bit too keen to remind everybody that he still felt Tottenham were ‘better’, even if they were clearly second best on the night.
A look in the mirror
If this United squad is inferior to Tottenham’s, and many would say it is, then Mourinho should look at himself and ask why that is.
He was the manager who put this squad together over three seasons. If Tottenham’s team is ‘better’, then it is partly his failing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is picking up the pieces after expensive short term signings like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez all came and went.
United are in the midst of a ‘strip it down and start again’ rebuild, and it is to Solskjaer’s credit that he has still been able to get the team to pull off big wins.
Results this season overall have not been good enough, but there are some encouraging signs. Beating Tottenham was one of them.
As the manager who famously parked the bus for Inter Milan to beat Barcelona, he should know better than anybody sometimes you have to work with what you have.
Mourinho knows all too well what a difficult ownership Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to work under, and he may see that in the second half of the season, and next year, United take a much more attacking and expansive approach when better attacking options are available.
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