Champions League

Mourinho's cautious Man Utd tactics win few admirers

2018-02-22 15:00
Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba (Getty Images)

London - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho left Spain with a precious clean sheet but few admirers after an uninspiring 0-0 Champions League draw with Sevilla that featured a limp attacking display.

It could have been a bleak night for Mourinho and United but for the heroics of goalkeeper David de Gea, who produced a dazzling display on Wednesday.

The Spaniard was forced into eight saves, including one remarkable stop from a point-blank Luis Muriel header just before half-time that was so spectacular the Colombian striker congratulated United's number one as they left the field at the break.

However, the result did not spare Mourinho from criticism, after he set his stall out from the start by leaving Paul Pogba on the bench for a workmanlike midfield three of Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and 21-year-old Scott McTominay.

Injury to Herrera forced Mourinho to introduce Pogba after just 17 minutes but even the French midfielder's talents, for which United paid Juventus 89 million ($124 million) 18 months ago, failed to inspire a visiting side playing to strict instructions.

A team also containing the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku had just one shot on target all evening at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium and even that was a tame McTominay strike from outside the box that was easily beaten away by Sergio Rico.

But Mourinho reacted angrily when asked whether he is betraying United's rich tradition of attacking football, most recently during Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden 27 years in charge.

"The next time I see David Beckham, I'm going to ask him 'David, when you were playing right wing in Manchester United, when the left-back attacked, do you stay looking at the stands or you come back with the guy?'" said Mourinho.

"Now it looks like all the good players, they have to play free... which I think is such a stupid thing to say," he added.

"The winning teams, the top teams in the world now, not 10 years ago, or 20 or 30, now, the top teams, everybody works, everybody has tactical discipline," he said.

POGBA FOCUS

Mourinho was also irritated at the focus on the absence of Pogba from his starting line-up.

"In my pre-match interview I had four questions and three were about Paul, and Paul was not even playing," he said. "That's a bit strange."

The United manager even hugged a TV reporter who asked him a question about McTominay, relieved it was not another about the French midfielder.

Sevilla, who conceded more goals than any other side that reached the last 16 of the Champions League, did not have their defensive weaknesses exposed by a cautious United team.

"Mourinho, look how hard it is to win when you don't want to," Spanish sports daily Marca headlined its match report, in a withering criticism of the former Real Madrid coach's tactics.

It was a performance thrown into an even harsher light by the free-flowing attacking intent showed by Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on the road in the Champions League last week.

"Compared to other teams in our league in this competition they are not as pleasing on the eye," said former United defender Rio Ferdinand.

"But they grind out results and in Europe I would be very satisfied with that and think 'we will beat them at home'.

"Sometimes it can't be pretty and it can't always be free-flowing. There have been times this season United have played well but they aren't as consistent in those performances of other teams."

However, the tactics were in keeping with Mourinho's cautious approach against the stronger sides away from home this season.

In trips to Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Sevilla, United have managed zero goals and a total of just seven shots on target.

That heaps the pressure on Mourinho to be far more daring with Chelsea and Liverpool visiting Old Trafford in the Premier League before the second leg against Sevilla on March 13 as he seeks to ensure qualification for next season's Champions League.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
AEK Athens v Ajax, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Viktoria Plzen, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Valencia, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v Benfica, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Manchester City, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v Young Boys, Old Trafford 22:00
Roma v Real Madrid, Stadio Olimpico 22:00
Hoffenheim v Shakhtar Donetsk, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 22:00
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Atletico Madrid v Monaco, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 19:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Galatasaray, RZD Arena 19:55
Porto v Schalke 04, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
PSG v Liverpool, Parc des Princes 22:00
PSV v Barcelona, Philips Stadion 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge, Signal-Iduna-Park 22:00
Napoli v Crvena Zvezda, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Internazionale, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.