Mourinho blasts 'sleeping' players

Moussa Sow's superb bicycle kick gives Fenerbahce a 1-0 lead as United's Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind fail to stop him.
Moussa Sow's superb bicycle kick gives Fenerbahce a 1-0 lead as United's Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind fail to stop him.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Form slump continues as 1-2 loss in Turkey puts progress in doubt; Pogba limps off

ISTANBUL • Jose Mourinho accused his Manchester United players of letting him down, as they slumped to a woeful away defeat by Fenerbahce on Thursday.

United's problems deepened as they lost 1-2 in Istanbul to put their hopes of reaching the Europa League knockout stages in jeopardy.

Moussa Sow beat David de Gea with a stunning second-minute overhead kick and Jeremain Lens scored direct from a free kick in the 59th minute, as United dropped to third (six points) in Group A with two matches remaining.

Wayne Rooney's late consolation goal could not prevent United from being dragged into a three-way battle for qualification with Fenerbahce and Feyenoord, trailing both by one point. Even more crucially, United must resurrect their form in the Premier League going into a crucial clash with relegation-threatened Swansea on Sunday after a bruising 4-0 defeat by Chelsea and a nervy 0-0 draw with Burnley.

A furious Mourinho laid into his players, accusing them of failing to listen to his instructions.

"I am disappointed because I have a lot of experience of playing against Turkish teams," said the former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto boss.

"I told them it is always easy to play them at home, but when you come to Turkey, it is a completely different story. I told them to wait for that and to be focused, but we started the game sleeping."

There was also a barb at midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was making his first appearance since Sept 10 as a second-half substitute.

"He has to do more," Mourinho said. "It's as simple as that. We have big expectations. We have lots of players for that position."

The Portuguese could have no complaints about the fifth defeat of his reign, one which was compounded by an injury to Paul Pogba.

"I think they deserved to win," he said. "A team that concedes a goal after two minutes is a team that is not ready, not prepared, not concentrated. At the start it was like they were playing the Champions League final and we were playing a summer friendly."

Pogba came off in the first half, rubbing his thigh after receiving two robust challenges. The severity of the injury was set to be assessed yesterday but it seems unlikely he will be fit to face Swansea.

As the world's most expensive player is still trying to justify his £89 million (S$153.8 million) transfer fee, Chinese investors are pondering a £200 million takeover of Southampton.

Claude Puel's side gave Lander Sports Development a glimpse of their potential, beating traditional Italian giants Inter 2-1 to close in on a place in the last 32.

The Saints are second in Group K, two points behind Sparta Prague (nine points), with Inter last.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Mourinho blasts 'sleeping' players'. Print Edition | Subscribe