Mourinho's positive spin on failure to set best points tally

Jose Mourinho shows the strain as Marcus Rashford takes a tumble during the 0-0 draw. The Manchester United manager admitted that Liverpool's midfield had dictated terms and he had not been able to counter their strength.
Jose Mourinho shows the strain as Marcus Rashford takes a tumble during the 0-0 draw. The Manchester United manager admitted that Liverpool's midfield had dictated terms and he had not been able to counter their strength.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admitted that it was a point gained, rather than two points lost, after his team drew 0-0 in the away Premier League clash with Liverpool yesterday.

The result also meant that United fell short of setting their best ever points tally of 22 after eight games of a Premier League campaign, although they have now gone seven games without defeat against their eternal rivals.

The Red Devils are also still unbeaten in the league this campaign.

"We came for three (points). But in the second half we felt difficult to do that with the match dynamics," said Mourinho. "I was waiting for Jurgen to change for him to go more attacking, but he kept the three strongest players on in positions where they were having control.

"He kept the strong midfield and that midfield was stronger than mine. In the second half I had no one on the bench to change the direction of the game.

"I tried with my substitutions to make us more dynamic in attack, but in reality we lost power and energy and control in midfield."

When Mourinho brought United to Anfield 12 months ago, he opted for an ultra-conservative approach that left Liverpool frustrated in a tame 0-0 draw.

Having scored four goals four times in the league this season, Mourinho had joked he would play nine attackers at Anfield this time, but it was another safety-first game plan from the arch pragmatist.

The United manager, however, was defiant about his tactics.

"You'll say we were defensive and they were offensive. But they were at home... We had one shot on goal, for you and the experts it is easy to speak but it is more difficult from the sidelines," the 54-year-old said.

"They are faster than us when the game breaks. I had no chance to bring the game in another direction, so it is a positive point."

United goalkeeper David de Gea attributed his world-class save during the game to "instinct" after he denied Joel Matip by saving with his left foot from close range.

"I tried to react quickly... sometimes the ball is so quick and I did what I could," the Spaniard told Sky Sports. "It's one point for us so we need to keep going. We always try to win the game but I think Liverpool played better than us. It's a point, we're happy."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho's positive spin on failure to set best points tally'. Print Edition | Subscribe