'Wickedness' spoiling beautiful game: Jose

Alexis Sanchez feels tempted to pull off his jersey as he runs off in celebration of his 90th-minute winning goal against Newcastle, with teammate Marouane Fellaini in pursuit.
Alexis Sanchez feels tempted to pull off his jersey as he runs off in celebration of his 90th-minute winning goal against Newcastle, with teammate Marouane Fellaini in pursuit.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho blames 'manhunt' after Red Devils make dramatic comeback against Newcastle

LONDON • Jose Mourinho took paranoia to a new level in the aftermath of Manchester United's dramatic 3-2 Premier League win over Newcastle on Saturday, complaining that the past few days had felt like a manhunt and that "wickedness" is now spoiling the beautiful game.

"A lot of things have been directed at me personally," said the Portuguese, who also blamed his side's poor run of form on the vitriol.

"There is too much talking. I have begun to feel that if it rains in London tomorrow, it is my fault. If people don't like Brexit, it is my fault.

"I have been blamed for extending my contract until 2020 but I didn't point a pistol at the club, they wanted to give it to me.

"I am 55 years old now and I can live with it, but some of my boys are not coping quite so well. Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay were scared on the pitch, they were making mistakes that were not normal (against Newcastle).

"A lot of wickedness and a clear man-hunting that in football is too much. It's my life, it's a life I love, it's a life I worked since I was a kid. I will love it until my last day."

All seemed to have ended well when substitute Alexis Sanchez put a month of indifferent form behind him to head home the winner, with the Old Trafford faithful chanting Mourinho's name in a show of support.

THE SCAPEGOAT

A lot of things have been directed at me personally... I have begun to feel that if it rains in London tomorrow, it is my fault. If people don't like Brexit, it is my fault.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, insisting that he is being unfairly scrutinised and criticised.

But as the United manager was expressing his distaste for personal scrutiny on TV, Rio Ferdinand said the use of the word manhunt had caused him to chuckle.

"What does he expect? He's the manager of United," the former Red Devils defender added. "If results are not going well, there are bound to be questions asked."

Those questions, plus multiple media reports on the eve of the game, had led to a widespread conviction that Mourinho was about to lose his job during the international break, if not over the weekend.

Senior United sources briefed selected contacts prior to the meeting with Rafa Benitez's men to insist that was not the case, though there was nothing in the form of a public statement that would have put the matter to bed.

A loss against Newcastle could certainly have hastened Mourinho's departure, and that looked to be on the cards when United's opponents, without a win this season, skipped into a 2-0 lead courtesy of Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto.

A combination of shrewd substitutions and patient pressure enabled United to pull level through Juan Mata and Anthony Martial before Sanchez rescued the situation.

By the final whistle, Mourinho had not only received a vote of confidence from the home fans, but also eclipsed legendary United manager Alex Ferguson's record as having the best win percentage at the club at 60.3 per cent.

"I'm happier for the players and the fans than for myself; it is nice to be able to produce a response on the pitch," he added.

He also revealed he had the board's backing after receiving a text message of support before the kick-off. "The ones that read the papers, that are connected with social media, they thought maybe I had gone," said Mourinho. "If I hadn't had an SMS from my board not to read (the papers), I would have been convinced too."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2018, with the headline ''Wickedness' spoiling beautiful game: Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe