Jose Mourinho tells Man United fans to up the ante for Liverpool

The Portuguese manager has asked for home fans not ‘to come to the theatre’ on Sunday

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho waves to fans after their EFL Cup semi-final win over Hull City. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho waves to fans after their EFL Cup semi-final win over Hull City. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

 

José Mourinho implored Manchester United fans not “to come to the theatre” for Sunday’s visit of Liverpool if they want to help the side try to beat Jürgen Klopp’s team. United dominated Hull City throughout Tuesday night’s 2-0 first-leg victory in the EFL Cup semi-final at Old Trafford but had to wait until the 56th minute for Juan Mata to break the deadlock.

Mourinho, who saw his side record a ninth successive victory in all competitions, was clear that unless supporters, players, and himself improve United will struggle to defeat their fiercest rivals in what will be a pivotal Premier League match with Liverpool in second place, five points ahead of t he Portuguese’s side.

While Marouane Fellaini, a second-half substitute, scored late on to give United a comfortable cushion for the return leg at the KCom Stadium, Mourinho was displeased.

“I think in the first half the players have to do better, I have to do better, the fans – they also have to do better,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t do my job well – maybe I should have brought more tension to the dynamic to prepare the game. The players have to improve, I have to improve, the fans, I’m sorry, have to improve. We are responsible for fans’ participation in the game. If we play very well, enthusiastically the fans – they come to the pitch to play with us. We have amazing fans, what I feel is Sunday is a special match for us – special match for the Man United fans. So my invitation is don’t come to the theatre, come to play, play with us.”

The result means they have recorded their longest winning run since early 2009, when Alex Ferguson’s side claimed 11 consecutive victories. Mourinho said: “In the second half, we all did a little bit, just a little bit better. Of course they were very well organised defensively [in the first half] like I was expecting and it was not easy for us. But I think we were a bit sloppy then, we complicated things with always one more touch, always delaying the decision and giving them time to regroup. And it was not our best half.”

United’s advantage makes them firm favourites to reach next month’s final. “I was expecting a difficult match,” said Mourinho. “I was not expecting to win by four or five. One-nil for me would always be a good result but 2-0 is better. It doesn’t end the semi-final, we are not at Wembley, but the second goal is maybe the important goal.”

Fellaini hugged Mourinho after his goal, the midfielder having been booed in the home game following his concession of a late penalty at Everton on 4 December. Mourinho, who is confident Zlatan Ibrahimovic can return to face Liverpool following illness but is less sure regarding Marcos Rojo’s muscle strain, said: “I think he wanted to show that he knows how much I supported him in a couple of difficult moments for him. It was probably because I told him you are going to score the second goal, I don’t know. It was nice for him to score in front of the fans and the second goal, that can be an important goal.”

Hull’s new manager, Marco Silva, who was only able to name six substitutes due to a depleted squad, was clear he does not want Robert Snodgrass to be sold to West Ham United. “I hope no, really I hope no,” he said.

(Guardian service)

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