Frustrated Jose Mourinho lashes out at ‘sloppy’ Manchester United
Red Devils’ inability to convert chances again on display in Europa League draw with Anderlecht
Jose Mourinho branded his misfiring Manchester United stars “sloppy” after conceding a late equaliser in their 1-1 Europa League quarter-final, first-leg draw at Anderlecht on Thursday.
United had several chances to kill off the tie after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first-half opener from a tight angle but their failure to convert chances – a failing all season long – came back to haunt them as Leander Dendoncker blasted home a header four minutes from time.
“The result is positive,” insisted Mourinho, with the second leg at Old Trafford to come next week.
“I think the result should be much better, we can only blame ourselves.
“We have an easy game to play in the second half and we didn’t – we lost the ball easily.
“We made sloppy decisions, we had sloppy touches on the ball and then we gave them opportunities to have counter-attacks.”
Mourinho praised the defence which had stood firm until Dendoncker’s late run wasn’t tracked, allowing the strapping midfielder to rise above Matteo Darmian and Marcus Rojo to power home a header.
“It was a strong performance for them, from the defence,” said Mourinho. “They did defensively what we asked them to do.”
But with centre backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones injured, Mourinho complained that Eric Bailly and Rojo will have to shoulder the burden of every match until the end of the season.
“There’s nothing I can do, they have to go until the end. There’s no other chance, we don’t have any other central defenders.”
Mourinho was less impressed with his forwards, who squandered many attacking positions and have managed only 19 goals in their 11 Europa League matches this season.
“The decisions were wrong, the only one that was right was Paul’s [Pogba] shot – a good save by the keeper,” moaned the Portuguese boss. “This has happened all season.”
Asked why his team are still struggling to score goals, Mourinho was at a loss.
“Good question, difficult answer,” he said.
United captain Michael Carrick echoed his manager’s feelings with a brutally honest assessment of the team’s shortcomings.
“It’s frustrating. We were so in control but got sloppy, we have to kill teams off,” he said.
“We should have won that game. They had one chance and scored a header. We need to be more ruthless, it’s as simple as that. We were too comfortable. We got sloppy.
“It’s not the end of the world but we are better than that. It’s that little edge that makes the difference in the end, but we’ll look forward to the next game.”
Anderlecht coach Rene Weiler said the late equaliser had kept his side’s hopes of progressing alive.
“We always believe, it’s always our aim to win,” he said.
“We know it will be a hard game in Manchester. We’ll fight for it, we still have chances – qualification is still open.”
The Belgian champions came on strong in the second half having been holding on at times in the first period.
But Weiler said his team hadn’t been overawed at the start.
“I don’t think we were timid, we had courage, we played well, we competed well,” he said. “They kept the ball well but that’s due to them, not because we were timid.”