United's 'criminal' display

West Ham's Marko Arnautovic celebrates after scoring the third goal in his side's 3-1 Premier League win over Manchester United yesterday. United's 10 points after their opening seven games of a top-flight season is their lowest since the 1989-90 cam
West Ham's Marko Arnautovic celebrates after scoring the third goal in his side's 3-1 Premier League win over Manchester United yesterday. United's 10 points after their opening seven games of a top-flight season is their lowest since the 1989-90 campaign, when they had seven points.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Former players Ferdinand, Neville blast team for lack of effort as Mourinho blames officials

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LONDON • Clubs cannot win the Premier League by the end of September but they can certainly lose it. And for Manchester United, their problems were written large on a torturous afternoon at West Ham yesterday after a 3-1 defeat.

Jose Mourinho's men were visiting the London Stadium after last weekend's draw with Wolverhampton and the midweek League Cup exit against Derby, not to mention the civil unrest between the United manager and Paul Pogba, and this was yet another low.

The Hammers have stabilised after their four-game losing start to the season, the win at Everton prefacing an encouraging draw with Chelsea, and the pre-match talk had been of recovery.

But the truth was they did not need to be on fire to beat this United team, who have now picked up the least number of points from their opening seven games of a top-flight season since 1989-90.

NOT THE TEAM'S FAULT

(The first) is an offside goal, the linesman made this mistake. The third, this time was a referee mistake.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, on how he felt that his side conceded two goals due to errors from the officials.

And former United defender Rio Ferdinand did not mince his words, labelling the Red Devils' lack of application as "criminal".

"As a footballer your DNA is about hard work and effort. I didn't see that today," he told BT Sport.

"You've got to work hard and grind and United didn't.

"There are some big decisions to be made at United now. There will be conversations at the top level, about the future of the manager and the squad, because the basics are not being done."

Mourinho axed Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard, and demanded a reaction from his stuttering team.

But what he got only intensified the sense that something is broken at Old Trafford and he does not have the tact to find the solution.

United's biggest problem remains their inability to break down well-organised defences. There was no coherent offensive strategy as they sleepwalked to a defeat that looked on the cards from the moment Felipe Anderson scored his maiden goal for the club.

The focus will inevitably fall on Pogba after another anonymous display and Mourinho's decision to substitute him in the 70th minute was greeted by ironic cheers.

The manager included Scott McTominay in defence to give more height and physicality, but the trade-off came in the lack of speed and movement and it was all horribly one-paced from his side.

Former United captain Gary Neville best summed up the malaise, tweeting that the first 45 minutes was "tough to watch".

West Ham went further in front just before the break after a stroke of good fortune, with Andriy Yarmolenko's shot deflecting off Victor Lindelof for an own goal.

Mourinho brought on Marcus Rashford for Lindelof in the second half, and the switch was a positive one, with the forward's back-heeled goal from Luke Shaw's corner raising hopes of a fightback .

But the Hammers had other ideas as Marko Arnautovic slotted home after a counter-attack. While Manuel Pellegrini's men deserved their victory, Mourinho was in no mood to give the opposition credit, blaming the officials for West Ham's opener and third goal.

"(The first) is an offside goal, the linesman made this mistake. The third, this time was a referee mistake," he said.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 30, 2018, with the headline 'United's 'criminal' display'. Print Edition | Subscribe