LONDON • Jose Mourinho has pointed to the disjointed efforts offered by Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as justification for restricting them to bit-part roles this season after Brighton secured a first win over Manchester United since 1982 to confirm their English Premier League status.
Neither Romelu Lukaku nor Alexis Sanchez was fit to feature at the Amex Stadium on Friday. But Rashford and Martial, making their 16th and 18th league starts this season respectively, laboured against Brighton and had one shot on target between them.
The 1-0 defeat left the United manager questioning whether his players were as desperate as he is to secure a top-two finish.
"It was not good enough," said Mourinho, who had made six changes to his line-up and asked those selected to impress before the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 19 at Wembley.
"The players who replaced others did not perform at a good level and, when individuals do that, it is difficult for the team to play well.
"Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much. People always ask: 'Why always Lukaku?' Well, now they know why always Lukaku, and why always this player and why always that player.
"We are probably not as good as people think we are individually."
United must wait to secure second as they remained on 77 points after 36 games. Having lost at Newcastle and Huddersfield earlier in the season, United have lost against all the newly promoted sides for the first time in the Premier League.
"We were not ready to prove that second position is important for us," Mourinho added. "I am disappointed because second is important for me. I'm not sure every one of my players is disappointed."
Pascal Gross' second-half header moved the Seagulls up to 11th - eight points clear of the bottom three before yesterday's games.
"I felt that we've deserved to stay in this league for our season's work," said Brighton boss Chris Hughton. "But if we'd lost today and the next two, it would have been a real feeling of injustice had we gone down.
"So (there's) relief that we've done it now, but I'm also really proud of a group of players."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE