United not ambitious enough: Mourinho

Tonny Vilhena (in red) of Feyenoord celebrating after scoring against Manchester United in their Europa League clash. The match ended 1-0 in favour of Feyenoord and gave Jose Mourinho a second successive defeat as United manager.
Tonny Vilhena (in red) of Feyenoord celebrating after scoring against Manchester United in their Europa League clash. The match ended 1-0 in favour of Feyenoord and gave Jose Mourinho a second successive defeat as United manager.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho admitted he will be unable to work miracles to restore Manchester United's confidence after they fell to a second successive defeat with a 0-1 loss to Feyenoord on Thursday.

A 79th-minute Tonny Vilhena goal ensured United began their Europa League campaign with defeat in Rotterdam to set a club record of four away defeats running in European competition.

After also being beaten by Manchester City in last Saturday's derby, Mourinho takes United to Watford for tomorrow's English Premier League game knowing he must avoid a third defeat in a row.

Mourinho made eight changes to the team that lost to City, but none of the new faces impressed.

"In the first half we did not have an especially ambitious attitude," the United manager said.

"I am not saying (it was) bad, but we did not have the ambition to win the match. We were not trying to win, we were just waiting for the possibility to win or not to lose. I expected more ambition."

Mourinho added that he told his players to forget the second-rate status of the competition and instead focus on trying to convince him that they deserved a chance to start the away match against Watford tomorrow.

"In the second half they answered my words at half-time but it's disappointing because it was in our best period that we lost the game. They scored the goal, which I don't think we deserved. And double unlucky because he was offside," the Portuguese said.

Mourinho would, one supposes, not shed a tear if United failed to make it through the group stage of the Europa League. But at the same time, his pride, and that of the club are important.

"When we won the Community Shield, and three Premier League matches, I was not saying we are phenomenal and we will beat every opponent," he added.

"To be honest, we didn't play phenomenal matches in these two defeats but to lose both it's a punishment for the team because I think we deserved more."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'United not ambitious enough: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe