LONDON • Jose Mourinho said he could not give an honest assessment of his players' performance after Manchester United slumped to a shambolic 3-2 Premier League defeat by Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
The United manager refused to share any thoughts about his players, claiming he has been criticised by the media for speaking too openly in the past about individuals who have displeased him.
"When I am critical with my players, you (the media) just don't accept it, so please do not ask me to go in this direction because it is not good for me," the Portuguese said.
"I will be very happy to analyse my players' performances when they were very good. When I cannot do that, don't push me to the other side.
"If I was in your position, I think this game today would give me quite a lot of material to write about. But don't expect me to speak with you about it because you and your colleagues were really critical of me when in previous seasons I was probably too honest and too open in my analysing about players' (bad) performances."
Mourinho, however, admitted that his side, as a collective, had paid the price for "incredible mistakes".
United were blown away on the English south coast as Brighton scored twice in two minutes, thanks to goals from Glenn Murray and Shane Duffy midway through the first half.
Games Paul Pogba played and scored in before ending up on the losing side. Before Sunday, Manchester United had won each of the 11 games he had netted in, a joint-record in the competition (with Ryan Babel for Liverpool).
Romelu Lukaku got one back, but Pascal Gross' penalty capitalised on more poor United defending to send Brighton into the interval with a 3-1 lead.
United rarely looked like mounting a fightback and Paul Pogba's penalty goal with virtually the last kick of the game came way too late.
"We were punished by the mistakes we made. For me, that's the story of the game. We made incredible mistakes in some crucial moments. Mistakes that killed us," Mourinho said, after a game in which both his central defenders Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof had poor performances that led to the goals conceded.
"The week leading up was good and I expected the team collectively to be better. But there were basic mistakes that made (it) almost an impossible mission to win the match."
Many of Mourinho's stars, including World Cup winner Pogba, new signing Fred and French forward Anthony Martial, were also anonymous for long periods.
France midfielder Pogba accepted the blame for his lethargic display, admitting he had been well below his best and that United had failed to match Brighton's desire.
"They had more hunger than us. I put myself first, that my attitude wasn't right enough. We made mistakes we shouldn't make. We tried to push and push, we kept trying, but it was a bit too late," he said.
Before this game, Mourinho had accused Manchester City of a lack of class after learning that a documentary about the Premier League champions featured digs at the United manager's expense.
However, City manager Pep Guardiola refused to get drawn into a war of words after his side's 6-1 win against Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
"I think we lived an amazing season last season, we did it (the documentary) for ourselves," he said.
"I don't agree with Jose in terms of being disrespectful to them. This was not our intention.
"We are a club that are trying to grow, to try to win titles, like all the big clubs in the world, and we did it for ourselves, for the fans, to see what happened in our locker room."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE