Mourinho defends his record and questions his players’ attitude
United’s defeat to bottom-of-the-table West Brom confirms Manchester City as champions
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez in action at Old Trafford. Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Yates
José Mourinho said he could “smell” a bad performance coming from Manchester United after the 1-0 defeat by bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion that confirmed Manchester City as Premier League champions and left him questioning his players’ attitude.
Mourinho described United as “the masters in complicated football”, and said they had been guilty of letting their 3-2 victory against Manchester City go to their heads, arguing that they would not be able to sustain a better challenge next season until Paul Pogba, among others, had started to show more consistency.
However, the United manager also gave a strong defence of his own record, listing some of his achievements with Chelsea, Real Madrid and Porto, after being asked how United could expect to overhaul Pep Guardiola’s team next season.
“I trust in my work,” he said. “I have no reason not to – eight titles and three Premier Leagues and the last Premier League was not 20 years ago. It was three years ago, and I know how to win. I believe in myself, but I don’t play.”
Jay Rodriguez’s second-half winner meant City securing the league title with five games to spare.
“I don’t know if I was the first or second or third, but I congratulated them face to face when I had the chance,” Mourinho said. “If I was in their position I would be very upset if someone said they won because United lost against West Brom. They won because they were the best team and lost only a few points.”
Pogba was substituted after 57 minutes of United’s defeat, and Mourinho did not make any attempt to conceal his unhappiness with the team’s performance and the inconsistency of his most expensive player.
“Probably because I won eight championships I was not in the moon with the victory against them [City]. It was only three points. That didn’t make me feel super happy, and, in my opinion, it affected some of the people that were too happy.
“I have lots of experience because I won eight titles and I was not over the moon . . . but I saw lots of people who were on the moon. During the week I was trying to fight that.
“With my experience you don’t titles with inconsistency. You win, of course, with quality, but with consistency in every level, not just the performance level but also the mental level. One of the things we have to improve is consistency.”
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany barely let City’s title celebrations begin before setting his side the challenge of making it two in a row next season.
While Guardiola said he would be playing golf while the United match took place and a handful of players were reportedly out of the country, captain Kompany was at home watching the drama unfold with his family.
Television cameras captured the moment the Belgian discovered he was a three-time champion, but after an initial burst of excitement he was focusing on the potential for even more success.
“It’s amazing. The first time you win it, you think you’ll win all of them. Then the first time you lose one, you think you’re never going to win another ever again,” he told Sky Sports. “You just want to hold on to the feeling. It’s a difficult achievement, and I’m proud of the team and everyone involved.
“You can’t take it for granted...before you know it, it’s gone. I have been lucky to win three but so many I have missed as well. I suppose my team-mates will roll their eyes a little bit but I kind of want to see what the reaction is now. I have never retained a title so I want to see if this team’s got it to carry on and be even more successful.”
Kompany indicated he spoke with the same voice as Guardiola, who can now lay claim to 24 trophies in a nine-year coaching career which includes triumphant spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“I think we share one thing maybe, the hunger and desire to never be satisfied,” said Kompany. “This is not a dynasty, it is one title we’ve won. We’re still super-happy, but there is so much to do before we unlock our full potential.”
After a mixed first season in England, Guardiola faced questions about whether his methods were a good fit for the Premier League. A 16-point lead with five games to play and 93 goals scored represents an emphatic response, not that any doubts ever existed inside the City dressing room.
“We all believed,” said Kompany. “There was a period of adaptation for him coming into the league and for us taking in his methods. They were the right ones, and the ones we believed in, I’m sure there are differences to how we play today compared to Bayern [Munich] and Barcelona; we survive and live by the strength of the team. One team was dominant in Germany and one had [Lionel] Messi, but we are nothing without the team.”
Guardiola, speaking after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Tottenham at Wembley, declared his own satisfaction at the superb efforts of his squad this term.
“It’s incredible the way we played, and I am so glad to be here and be part of this club,” he said on the club’s website. “These guys are fantastic, awesome – they are incredible. This club is absolutely amazing in all terms.”
He added: “You can win the Champions League in seven games, the league is 10 months. I’m sorry, it’s much more important what these guys have done this season. Hopefully we can celebrate with our fans against Swansea [next weekend] and be champions because they deserve it.”