Mourinho admits title race is all but over after Manchester City defeat

United coach says rivals ‘protected by the football gods’ after penalty incident

Manchester derby: “We won because we were better in every department,” Pep Guardiola said after beating José Mourinho’s side. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Manchester derby: “We won because we were better in every department,” Pep Guardiola said after beating José Mourinho’s side. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

 

José Mourinho all but admitted defeat in the Premier League title race after watching Manchester United fall 11 points behind a Manchester City team he described as being “protected by the luck” and helped on their way to the championship because “the gods of football are behind them”.

Mourinho’s backhanded compliments came after a 2-1 victory for Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford that left the United manager complaining at length that Ander Herrera should have been awarded a penalty in the second-half incident that led to the midfielder being booked for diving.

“I think they are a very good team, they are lucky, they have decisions in their favour,” Mourinho said. “My first reaction is that I feel sorry for Michael Oliver. The referee is a human being, and he tried his best. He was very committed to have a good match, which I think he had, but made one mistake, which was a crucial mistake.”

Asked whether the Premier League title race was now over, Mourinho said: “Probably, yes. Manchester City are a very good team, and they are protected by the luck, and the gods of football are behind them.”

Barcelona approach

Guardiola’s view was that it was still too early for him to say the same, but City have now won 14 league fixtures in a row, and the victorious manager, praising his team for taking on the Barcelona approach to football, dismissed Mourinho’s complaints about the penalty incident. It was, according to the City manager, just more of the usual from Mourinho and something to which he was wholly accustomed from their time as rival managers in Spain.

“We won because we were better in every department,” Guardiola said. “Last season it was the same: we won here, and it [for Mourinho] was the referee. Today as well. Yesterday he spoke about the referee. We are an honest team. When a team has the courage to have 65 to 70 or 75 per cent ball possession it is because it wants to try to play, and that is what we have done. We are clear, we are open and we want to attack.

“People said we could not play this way in England. They said we couldn’t play the way we did in Barcelona, but it is possible, and we did it. Always I believed we could do it. That’s why football is so beautiful.”

April derby

He added: “I’m happy to go to Stamford Bridge and now Old Trafford and to beat them in this way. But we are still in December. If we have 11 points [as a lead] when we play the second derby in April then maybe I will tell you that we have the title.

“This win means a lot in the way we played for our confidence, but in three days we go to Swansea in the wintertime. We are going to face a lot of difficulties. In December it’s impossible to be champions, but it is good for us.”

Guardiola, the former Barcelona head coach, also responded to Mourinho’s prematch remarks that City players can be guilty of diving – “It’s not true that my players go down easily. That is not an argument I believe” – and promised to keep wearing his yellow ribbon in support of the two Catalan politicians who were jailed during the region’s fight for independence last month.

The only downside for City was another injury to Vincent Kompany. “Vinnie is always like this,” Guardiola said. “Unfortunately we can’t count on him for a long time.” – Guardian

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