United not favourites: Mourinho

Paul Pogba scoring Manchester United's goal that proved enough to send his side through to the League Cup final on aggregate, despite their 2-1 defeat by Hull on the night. They will face Southampton in the final.
Paul Pogba scoring Manchester United's goal that proved enough to send his side through to the League Cup final on aggregate, despite their 2-1 defeat by Hull on the night. They will face Southampton in the final.PHOTO: REUTERS

Portuguese denies his side are odds-on to win League Cup as he aims dig at rivals Liverpool

KINGSTON UPON HULL • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho took a sarcastic swipe at his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, after his side booked their place in the League Cup final.

A day after Liverpool were bundled out of the competition by Southampton, United progressed with a 3-2 aggregate win over Hull City despite losing 1-2 in Thursday's second leg.

Klopp claimed the wind had made conditions difficult in the Reds' 0-1 loss to Southampton on Wednesday and Mourinho made an acerbic reference to that remark when he was asked if United are the favourites for the trophy.

"I don't think we are favourites against nobody," he said. "It doesn't matter where we play, against who, we are never favourites.

"Normally the stadium is windy and it's difficult."

Mourinho also tried to claim that his team's unbeaten record remained intact despite their defeat by Hull, who won courtesy of Oumar Niasse's 85th-minute goal.

It was United's first loss in 18 matches, but having disagreed with the decision that led to Tom Huddlestone putting Hull ahead from the penalty spot, Mourinho claimed the outcome had been invalid.

"We didn't lose. It was 1-1. I only saw two goals," the Portuguese said at a post-match press conference at the KCOM Stadium.

"I saw (Paul) Pogba's goal and their (second) goal was a fantastic goal. Great action, great cross and the guy in the far post coming. 1-1."

Huddlestone put Hull in front in the 35th minute after Marcos Rojo was adjudged by referee Jon Moss to have tugged at Harry Maguire's shirt.

Mourinho refused to divulge his thoughts on the penalty, but suggested United's control of the tie had been unfairly taken away by Moss.

"I don't want to speak about the penalty, but I don't want also to speak about the performance," said the Portuguese, whose side will face Southampton at Wembley on Feb 26.

"Because to speak about the performance again, I have to say the game was in the pocket, the game was under control and something happened to open the game."

While United are enjoying an extended spell of good results under Mourinho, it could come at a cost of the relationship between the Portuguese and Anthony Martial.

The £36 million (S$64.6 million) French forward is unhappy that Mourinho said he had missed the opportunity to impress in recent games. He was subsequently left out of the squad for the Hull match, as well as last week's Premier League draw with Stoke.

The 21-year-old is understood to be frustrated with his manager's hot-and-cold treatment and perplexed at how he went from being important enough to command a starting place to not even meriting a spot on the bench within a week.

In addition, there is further exasperation from Martial at Mourinho's latest public criticisms, particularly given that he has scored in two of his past three starts for the club. He scored against Middlesbrough in the league and Reading in the FA Cup.

Martial has been linked with a loan move to La Liga high-fliers Sevilla. Last month his agent said that he was "studying closely" an offer from the Europa League winners.

Hull have won three of the five games they have played since Marco Silva succeeded Mike Phelan as manager earlier this month and he is confident they are on the right track.

"Game by game I see progress and it's important," he said. "Our organisation in this moment is better. We need to continue to do our work."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'United not favourites: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe