Football: Jose feels unappreciated despite fine display

Anthony Martial is congratulated by United manager Jose Mourinho after being substituted. His goal and Juan Mata's opener secured the win.
Anthony Martial is congratulated by United manager Jose Mourinho after being substituted. His goal and Juan Mata's opener secured the win.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claims his side's attacking efforts would be hailed more if someone else was in charge at Old Trafford and even aimed a dig at former club Chelsea.

United completely outplayed Watford in Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win, as goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial took Mourinho's men to within a point of the Champions League places.

Their display belied Mourinho's reputation as a defence-minded manager and he said United would get more credit for the quality of their football if he was not sitting in the dug-out.

"It was a very good (performance)," he said. "It was the kind of football that if it was somebody else's team, you would say it was 'art', but because it was my team, you will just say it was 'very good'. But that is fine."

Mata's 32nd-minute goal helped United break through Watford's defensive resistance on an afternoon when Mourinho's men had the run of the pitch.

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  • With 14 goals and eight assists, Anthony Martial has been involved in more Premier League goals for Manchester United than any other player since he made his debut in September 2015.

Martial had been one of those running Watford ragged and when he made it 2-0 on the hour with only his third league goal of the season, the game was well and truly over.

United have now gone 16 league games unbeaten and while they remain sixth, they are just a point below both Liverpool and City.

It was United's fourth consecutive clean sheet and while that pleased Mourinho, he knows the club's fans demand to be entertained more than anything else.

He even hinted that the defensive and counter-attacking brand of football he used at previous clubs would win United trophies if he employed those tactics.

"When I got the job they were saying at Manchester United you need to play football in a certain way and I agree," said the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss.

"You cannot play like some successful teams in the Premier League, but they play with a completely different style. We have to play attacking football and then to be humble and analyse the match.

"Chelsea are very good defensive team. They defend very well and with lots of players and I think in this situation a very defensive team wins the title with counter-attack goals and set-piece goals so I don't think they will let it slip, but football is football."

Martial has recently been in Mourinho's bad books, with the United manager hitting out at the player's agent for openly discussing interest in his client from other clubs. The 21-year-old French forward had not featured in United's previous three league games, but he was back to his best against Watford, much to his manager's delight.

"Martial deserves the chance," said the Portuguese, whose side remain sixth. " He has worked harder than ever in the last two weeks in the way I like - silence but hard."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Jose feels unappreciated despite fine display'. Print Edition | Subscribe