Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho criticised the mentality of his players following their dismal 3-1 defeat to West Ham, a result that saw United equal their worst ever start to a Premier League season.
Defeat at the London Stadium left The Red Devils 10th in the table on 10 points, nine points behind leaders Manchester City.
United’s worst starts to Premier League seasons (after seven games):
11 points, 3 wins, 6 goals scored (Final position: Champions, 83 points)
12 points, 3 wins, 8 goals scored (Final position: Third, 77 points)
10 points, 3 wins, 10 goals scored (Final position: Seventh, 64 points)
11 points, 3 wins, 13 goals scored (Final position: Fourth, 70 points)
The poor display also increased the pressure on the Portuguese following a tumultuous week that saw United exit the Carabao Cup to Championship side and strip Paul Pogba of the vice-captaincy.
“I can have complaints with quality and mental approach,” he said. “You have to try always and that is my nature as a football professional.”
Mourinho then defended his decision to drop the out-of-form Alexis Sánchez in favour of Anthony Martial, while praising the personality of 21-year-old defensive midfielder Scott McTominay, who also returned to the squad.
“I want to play Martial – something that you [reporters] are asking for a long, long time – and I left Alexis out,” Mourinho said.
“Martial is not a player very, very focused on his defensive duties. To play him as a second striker and trying just to cover the area of [Declan] Rice would be much easier for him.
“At the same time, I feel that we need quality on the ball building up from the back and Scott McTominay has that quality. Everything that left his foot was correct – a part of a special character; a special personality that the team in a negative moment needs. A team in a negative moment needs the kind of mentality Scott McTominay has.”
Asked whether his other players had a similar mentality, Mourinho replied: “Not all of them. But every player is a different person. Scott McTominay is a kid with a special character.”
He added that he was also upset with officials, claiming there was an offside in the build to the first and a foul leading up to the third.
“The first was an offside goal,” Mourinho said. “And the third was a referee mistake [by Michael Oliver], although we were not very good in the transition.
“We are not a team that is very good when we lose possession and the other team counterattacks. Zabaleta doesn’t see the ball [on the third]. Zabaleta only goes for Marcus Rashford, pulls [him]. Mr Oliver decides in the other way.”
Either way, fans were unimpressed.
Sarri’s been at Chelsea for just over 2 months and you can already see his philosophy being implemented into his players. Meanwhile, at OT, Mourinho’s been here for just over 2 years and we still look clueless. It’s time for a change.
— Ryan. 🔴 (@Vintage_Utd) September 29, 2018
Mourinho needs to step down or the club need to sack him, now!
— Courtney (@CourtneyMUFC) September 29, 2018
United can’t let this go on. Unless there’s a comeback here of stunning proportions this is another really poor day out. These guys have downed tools. They want Mourinho out.
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) September 29, 2018
You know when it’s REALLY bad when you lose and you feel NOTHING.
I feel nothing today, because every minute, every second is predictable.
When we used to lose it would ruin my weekend, it would ruin my life.
— Rob Blanchette (@_Rob_B) September 29, 2018
Plenty of these #MUFC players simply aren’t good enough. A fair few of them aren’t half as good as they themselves, or our fans, think they are. But regardless of what you think of this squad’s ability, what’s abundantly evident is that Mourinho will not get the best out of them
— Jonathan Shrager (@JonathanShrager) September 29, 2018
Should Mourinho be sacked?