Mourinho takes shot at team's toothless attack

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku trying to shoot against Valencia's Ezequiel Garay and Gabriel Paulista but to no avail. The Belgium striker was heavily criticised by former United defender Rio Ferdinand following Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku trying to shoot against Valencia's Ezequiel Garay and Gabriel Paulista but to no avail. The Belgium striker was heavily criticised by former United defender Rio Ferdinand following Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw at Old Trafford.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • "Attack, attack, attack!" roared the Old Trafford crowd, but Manchester United did not attack.

In the end, Jose Mourinho's men were held to an insipid 0-0 Champions League home draw with Valencia on Tuesday.

With only one victory in eight games in all competitions prior to their visit to Manchester, Valencia were not exactly daunting opponents for United who, according to the Daily Mail, were preparing for the encounter after a 45-minute pre-match rant by their manager.

But the hairdryer treatment had little effect as United could only huff and puff against the Spanish LaLiga side, with Mourinho recording his fourth straight winless home game for the first time in his managerial career.

Although he initially cut a deflated figure at his post-match press conference, conceding that the stalemate was "a fair result", Mourinho was quick to point the finger at his players' failings rather than his own shortcomings.

"We don't have the technical quality to build from the back," insisted the 55-year-old, whose side resorted to pumping the ball long to Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku to boos from the home fans.

"We knew we wouldn't create 20 chances. Our attacking players aren't in their best moments of confidence and individual level."

NOT AT THEIR BEST

We knew we wouldn't create 20 chances. Our attacking players aren't in their best moments of confidence and individual level.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, on how his players' struggles, and not his defensive tactics, led to the draw.

As some of former United manager Alex Ferguson's most famous pupils watched on, it was another 90 minutes of boring football that showed how far the club have fallen since the days of the famed class of '92 that thrilled Old Trafford on European nights.

David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt were all in attendance, while Paul Scholes was scathing of Mourinho even before the Group H match.

"His mouth is probably out of control and he's embarrassing the club," said the BT Sport pundit, who also expressed his surprise that Mourinho had yet to be sacked.

The Portuguese, however, gave short shrift to one of his fiercest critics, saying: "I don't need to know what Scholes said."

But, in comments that will do little to endear Mourinho to those who have their knives out for him, he also admitted that Saturday's Premier League game against Newcastle is now a must-win after their worst start to a top-tier campaign in 29 years.

Mourinho was not the only one to draw flak after the turgid encounter with Marcelino's men.

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand blasted Lukaku's display, with the Belgium striker's goal drought extending to five games.

Ferdinand told BT Sport: "He just stands and really, he's got to be moving. You know what he's doing and, for a defender, that's a dream."

Things will, however, not get any easier for United with testing trips to Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City to come in two of their next five league games as well as two Champions League clashes with Italian Serie A title-holders Juventus.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Mourinho takes shot at team's toothless attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe