Gary Neville’s defense of Mourinho, Zlatan’s confession and much more!

Things are getting more and more difficult for Manchester United and it’s supporters to digest. Another league game, another draw, same old story for Jose Mourinho and his boys. They had a golden chance of making some lost ground on their rivals Manchester City and Liverpool but unfortunately, as has been the case in the past several weeks, United could not hold on to their slender lead and ended up getting another underwhelming draw under their belts. Against Arsenal, it was a slight lapse in concentration and this time it was the big clumsy Belgian, Marouane Fellaini. There has been a lot of flak for the manager as he decided to bring Fellaini on when things were going rather fine. However, Gary Neville thinks otherwise and rightly so.

“It’s nothing to do with the manager. He’s made the substitution for the right reason and the player has let him down.”

However, when the manager was asked about it, he did not give a definitive answer to questions pertaining to that incident. He simply brushed it aside.

“No thoughts. No comment.”

However, he did open up about his thought process of why he brought Fellaini on.

“Everton is not the passing team anymore, like they were, Everton is a team that plays direct, everything is direct, goalkeeper: direct, Ashley Williams: direct, Funes Mori: direct, everything is direct.

“And when a team is losing and plays direct, intensifies the direct football, and when you have a player on the bench with two metres you play the player in front of the defensive line to help the team to the match.”

He also had a similar take on the Marcus Rojo tackle.

“No comment.”

However, he still tried to focus upon a few positives and individual performances that impressed him in the games. But also agreed that he cannot do much to change their luck.

“No. We have to work the way we are doing. There have been amazing performances from Jones and Rojo, players who have never played for the club for the past two years. To perform in five consecutive matches against difficult opposition, I am so happy with the individual performances.”

Mourinho also opened up on his tactics to sit back and soak up the pressure in the last few minutes, which basically backfired.

“We were the best team by far, but we didn’t win. We had chances for a 2-0 and had the ball against the post and then we conceded a goal in the last minute. I notice my team trying always to play the 90 minutes in the same way, but that is not always possible because your opponent tries to react which they did a little bit in the last 10 or 15 minutes.”

He also pointed out that the results are far more important than the performances, as currently, the league standings does not reflect the true quality of this United team.

“I am concerned because we don’t get results we deserve. When my teams play matches in a different style what matters is style of football. When you have teams playing defensive counter attack football they get praise.

“When my team is playing well the results are important. I am pleased my team is playing well. It is a problem that our position in the table is not a reflection of our performances. If you tell me in any one of our draws we were more close than our opponents. This season, what matters is the results not the quality of football.”

As Mourinho thought his team deserved to win, so did his counterpart.

“We went 1-0 down through a mistake which was disappointing, of course. One point was the minimum what we deserved.

“We made the subs and we took risk with four strikers on. David De Gea made one or two unbelievable saves and we could have scored earlier.”

United’s center back who has been surprisingly good and fit, Phil Jones, focussed on the good parts but also felt that it actually might be fatigue that lead to creation of so few chances.

“I think we controlled the game from the start to the 60th minute. We maybe didn’t create as many chances as recent games. Maybe it’s a lack of concentration or fatigue, but it’s costing us points.”

HE also echoed the concerns of several United fans when he spoke about the faltering results.

“That’s four or five games where we have dominated but not won. Everton is a difficult place to come, but we were resilient up until we gave the penalty.

“The manager has shown a lot of confidence in me and it’s nice. But at the moment it’s about getting results.”

United’s only goal scorer this evening, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, confessed that he would rather not score goals and win the game, instead of scoring and dropping points.

With nine points off the fourth spot, the season is well and truly getting farther and farther from United. Can they make some kind of a comeback to clinch the top four spot? Maybe, but they will have to turn it around as early as the next game. To make things difficult, United now have another tough game coming up against Tottenham Hotspurs. Only if United had closed this game out, they could have gone in with a much better frame of mind and also with a chance of hopping above Tottenham in the table. Any more hiccups or setbacks and top four will be truly out of reach for the Reds. Can Mourinho get them out of this rut, one sure hopes so.

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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