LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho directed stinging criticism at some of his players following their 1-2 loss to English Premier League football rivals Manchester City on Saturday.
The United manager hauled off Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard at half-time and said it was only because he did not want to "destroy them" that he did not substitute them earlier.
But he saved his most trenchant remarks for centre-backs Daley Blind and Eric Bailly, saying some players had shown signs they did not possess the requisite big-game temperament.
"We had problems with poor performances," Mourinho said at Old Trafford after the game. "We lost the ball very, very easy. Even our central defenders, that were really top class until today, they lost easy balls.
"Back-passes, first-station passes, from Bailly to (Marouane) Fellaini, from Blind to (Paul) Pogba. We lost the ball in these kinds of positions.
What I told them at half-time was that for some of you, it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do.
MOURINHO directs part of his tirade at Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard, both of whom he hauled off at the break.
"So it was not (just) Mickey (Mkhitaryan) and Jesse, it was much more than Mickey and Jesse."
Pep Guardiola's City were 2-0 ahead, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled a goal back for United.
PARTLY TO BLAME
We could have been talking about a completely different story... We were punished by Mark with his bad decisions in the second half.
MOURINHO explains why referee Mark Clattenburg was partially responsible for United's loss.
But, although United improved following the half-time introductions of 18-year-old Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera, they could not find an equaliser.
"What I told them at half-time was that for some of you, it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do," said Mourinho. "I told Bailly 20 times, never play a first-station ball. Never. Because this is where they want to press. He did it 20 times during the game.
"I think really some of the boys, they felt the dimension of the game. Everything around the game - the derby, the big game, Man United-Man City, the focus, the attention - some of the guys felt it."
Mourinho blamed referee Mark Clattenburg for not awarding a penalty after a rash challenge on Wayne Rooney by City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the second half.
FAILING TO DELIVER
Back-passes, first-station passes, from Bailly to (Marouane) Fellaini, from Blind to (Paul) Pogba. We lost the ball in these kinds of positions.
JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, directing his anger at his two centre-backs.
"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," said the United manager. "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."
Guardiola said he had not seen the incident, but former Premier League stars Graeme Souness and Thierry Henry, analysing the match for Sky Sports, agreed with Mourinho's assessment.
"That's a red and a penalty," Henry said. Souness commented: "It was a straight red. That was a sending-off when I played."
Mourinho also believed that Clattenburg should have penalised Nicolas Otamendi for handling when the ball struck the Argentinian defender's arm in City's box.
City claimed that Bailly should have collected two bookings and a red card for persistent fouling, and that Fellaini escaped sanction for a stray elbow that knocked out one of Aleksandar Kolarov's teeth.
Guardiola claimed that he did not see the Otamendi incident but, remarkably, praised Bravo's debut.
"Bravo today showed us what the most important thing in football is. It's not (making) a mistake," said the City manager. "He attacked the ball (when he dropped it for Ibrahimovic's goal). I love when goalkeepers attack the ball.
"The performance from Bravo, his personality, showed me a lot. He was amazing with the feet and with his saves and going to attack the ball."
The Catalan, who has now won all of his first six games in charge of City, also praised his players for standing up to United's physical tactics and aerial bombardment in the second half.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN