Relief as United nearly bottle it

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho kicking a bottle crate before picking up another and smashing it to the ground during Tuesday's 1-0 win over Young Boys.
United goalkeeper David de Gea diving to make a save with the ball right on the line to keep the score at 0-0. His contract will end in the summer but Mourinho, who hailed him as "the best goalkeeper in the world", will be eager for the club to extend his deal. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mourinho slams critics of his antics, boasts about making knockout stages for 14 seasons

LONDON • Jose Mourinho once again stole the show from his players, smashing a bottle crate to the ground after Marouane Fellaini's last-gasp winner took Manchester United into the Champions League knockout stages.

His antics on the Old Trafford touchline on Tuesday as United eked out a 1-0 Group H win over Swiss champions Young Boys made headlines yesterday, such as the Sun's "Water Load of Rubbish".

The Daily Mail were no less kinder, accusing Mourinho of "acting in crazy fashion" and the Sun added that it was typical that "he blew his top again".

But the volatile Portuguese, whose mood swings and barbed remarks about virtually all his players and the transfer policy of the board have cast a pall over the club this season, defended his violent reaction, insisting it was the product of several factors.

"Relief," Mourinho said of his pumped-up celebrations.

"Frustration before and relief with the goal. We didn't play to be in trouble until the last minute, so frustration."

Along with his team, the United manager has been consistently criticised this season, largely for their turgid style of play and they were again ponderous all evening.

Fellaini's goal even appeared to have come off his hand.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho kicking a bottle crate before picking up another and smashing it to the ground during Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Young Boys. PHOTOS: REUTERS

United's continued listlessness means Mourinho can also barely twitch an eyelid these days without being criticised by former United players or pundits and, despite their progress to the last 16, there was no letting up in the anti-Mourinho rhetoric.

His exasperated reaction to Marcus Rashford's early miss by crossing his arms and looking away in disgust prompted TV pundit Gary Lineker to lay into him, saying: "If I saw my manager react like that, I would be absolutely livid."

However, Mourinho hit back at Lineker in typically feisty fashion.

"I would invite people to sit on the bench as managers," he said.

"But maybe it's better to have lots of holidays in Barbados, and go to the TV screen and touch the electronic dummies.

"It's much more comfortable than being on the touchline."

He also took the opportunity to boast about his "14-season" Champions League record, adding: "For some of my lovers, for those who like stats, 14 times qualify through the group phase. The season I didn't play, I won the Europa League."

It was also not all negative for the 55-year-old, who had the support of Neil Warnock, with the Cardiff manager telling the Daily Mail: "I thought it was brilliant to show the passion. The people who criticise him, very few have been near the dugout."

Mourinho, however, conceded that United were indebted to David de Gea, who made a stunning save in the second half with both teams deadlocked and hailed him as "the best goalkeeper in the world".

De Gea's deal will run out in the summer, but his manager claimed the club were "working on that" amid rumours of a move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Group H rivals Juventus also clinched their passage to the last 16 after a 1-0 home win over Valencia thanks to Mario Mandzukic, with Cristiano Ronaldo becoming the first player to achieve 100 Champions League victories in the process.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'Relief as United nearly bottle it'. Print Edition | Subscribe