Mourinho reaches for excuses book after dismal United display
Manchester United fall 12 points behind league leaders as City control the game
To almost every observer at the Etihad Stadium, the game was controlled by City, but the Manchester United manager saw things differently. Although his side’s only shot on target was the second-half penalty Anthony Martial scored in response to goals from David Silva and Sergio Agüero, he denied the 3-1 scoreline reflected the game.
“If the third goal is scored in one of the moments where they were dominating I would probably say so, but it comes in a moment where we were in the fight to get the equaliser,” he said. Mourinho insisted United had given “not a negative performance at all” and added: “If you focus on the game today, it was open for 80-something minutes.”
The way people who don’t understand football analyse it with stats. I don’t go for stats
“The game,” he said, “was open in a week when they play three home games and have 6-1, 6-0 victories, relaxed, everything nice and easy and we play two matches away, difficult where the second was like a final against one of the best teams in Europe where we give everything physically, mentally.”
The absence of the injured Paul Pogba disrupted United too, Mourinho pointed out. “We had to play [Marouane] Fellaini and he was not ready to play for 90 minutes. I can imagine when the result was 2-1 to bring on a fresh Fellaini, I think they would be in big, big trouble. For different reasons we missed Paul but that doesn’t mean with Paul we win the game so it’s not an excuse.”
And what of the stats? City had 66 per cent possession and 16 shots to United’s five. “The way people who don’t understand football analyse it with stats. I don’t go for stats. I go for what I felt in the game and it was there until minute 80-something. I consider the performance of my team one with mistakes. It is different from a bad performance.”
Raheem Sterling’s stepovers in the final seconds drew an angry reaction from Juan Mata, who appeared to accuse the forward of showboating, and Pep Guardiola confronted the England international at the end over his behaviour. “He made some movements with the legs, we can avoid it, but he’s young and he’s going to improve,” City’s manager said.
Guardiola was not entirely satisfied the performance of his team, whose third goal came from Ilkay Gündogan. “First half not so good,” he said. “We played like: ‘I don’t want to lose the ball’ but not the intention to attack or to do something. I feel when I watch my players, a team that feel a little bit the pressure. They want to do well in the derby. That’s normal.
“Despite that, we were stable, we score one goal, the first 15 minutes was so good and after that we didn’t press so well.”