Jose Mourinho insisted that Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League was ‘nothing new’ and that he didn’t want to make a drama out of it as we bowed out of the competition by losing 2-1 to Sevilla at Old Trafford.
The manager played down the significance of the result, arguing that he had no regrets and that the team had given their best to win the encounter.
“I think the first goal will always be important in this match – not just because of the first leg result [a goalless draw] but also because of the profile of the match [a Champions League last-16 tie],” Mourinho told the club’s official website.
“We tried since the first minute to be aggressive and to be intense and I could find some similarities between this game and the beginning against Liverpool last weekend. But then, we didn’t score and Sevilla progressively kept the ball, they were quite confident having the ball and hiding the ball from us and controlling the game well. In spite of that, we didn’t have problems in the first half. In the second half, we had good chances to score.
“We had good and dangerous approaches to their box. They scored a goal and from that moment everything became much more emotional and much more difficult and the second goal made it almost impossible.”
The way United went out of the Champions League saw Mourinho get a lot of stick from the footballing fraternity and rightly so. But the United manager defended his players, claiming nothing was wrong with the team’s attitude.
“We always want more quality and movement but the players were completely free for that and we had good situations,” Mourinho added.
“I saw one just in front of me in the best period of the first half with Antonio Valencia, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford which is exactly what we work for and this is exactly what we want. We had good situations, we had good periods. I don’t think we had control of the game because the opponent had that, but I cannot say that my players had something wrong in terms of their attitude and their intention to play.”
The Portuguese also said he was happy with the players’ sadness after the defeat to Sevilla, explaining:
“Of course, everybody is sad and I told the players in the dressing room I’m happy with this sadness. Really happy with that. There is not time to be sad for a long time, though. We have a match on Saturday and hopefully, the players will be back on the training ground and focused on that important game. I said for the two matches against Sevilla and Brighton if you win you are in and, if you lose, you are out.”
United now have the FA Cup quarterfinal tie against Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday and Mourinho has urged his boys to move on from the Sevilla loss and concentrate on the upcoming big game.
“Yes [we have to look at winning the FA Cup and finishing in the top four]. But a fantastic team like Tottenham has exactly the same target as us to do that. Liverpool have the Champions League but don’t have the FA Cup and that’s football and that’s life. We lost and tomorrow is another day. We have no time for dramas. We have to work because on Saturday we have another important match,” he concluded.
United were very poor for almost the entire 90 minutes. The way we went about playing the game without any real urgency or tempo was absolutely frustrating to watch.
It was really a big disappointment. We were facing Sevilla on the back of two morale-boosting wins against Crystal Palace and Liverpool.
Mourinho’s set-up of the team, the way the players played and the tactics, absolutely baffled me. It never looked like we were playing in front of our fans as Sevilla, the fifth best side in La Liga, dominated us in the second-half.
But there is no point crying over spilt milk and the team must ensure they bounce back with a win over Brighton in the FA Cup.
Man United keen on landing Ligue 1 star for a fee of about £43million
Manchester United prepare £43 million bid for Moussa Dembele
Manchester United are interested in Lyon striker Moussa Dembele (h/t Mirror)
The 23-year old has enjoyed a stellar season for Lyon and has scored 15 goals and 1 assist in 28 appearances. (h/t Whoscored)
Dembele is expected to cost in the region of £43 and is also drawing interest from Chelsea.
The Red Devils had failed to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku in the summer and were extremely reliant on the young Rashford for goals.
Rashford has scored 19 goals and 5 assists this season. He is the club’s top scorer and the second top assist maker. United have lacked a cutting edge in the Englishman’s absence and had been playing through injury of late.
Solksjaer was forced to bring on the striker against Wolves which unfortunately led to worsening the extent of his injury.
United currently lack a clinical player upfront. The result against Liverpool could have been different had Martial taken the chances afforded to him.
Lack of a plan?
United should have gone for a striker immediately after the signing of Lukaku. Rashford has had to play through injury and now finds himself out for 3 months.
The injury could also affect the youngster’s chances of making the England squad for the Euros. Rashford has made 201 appearances for United by the age of 22 and needs to be handled better to prevent him from burning out.
Prodigious youngsters such as Robbie Fowler and Micheal Own never got to reach the levels expected of them as they were burnt out and beset by injuries.
Dembele is an excellent player who will be an asset to United. But considering the position the club is in, it can be considered to be a step back for the Frenchman if he joins them.
The fact that the clubs has been linked to the player only after Rashford’s injury and not in spite of it reeks of a lack of long term planning.
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Dembele already has experience of playing in England for Fulham and Celtic. The 23-year old made 64 appearances for Fulham,with 2 of them coming in the English Premier League.
Man Utd to look at alternatives after refusing to sign this £68.24m star
Manchester United look at alternatives for Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United are looking at alternatives for Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
Fernandes has been linked with a move to the Red Devils since last summer and appeared to be in a strong position to sign the player in the January transfer window.
But the club now seem to have backed out of a deal citing Sporting’s sudden increase in the player’s valuation to £68.24 million.
With the clubs appearing to be unable to agree on a fee, United are considering Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish as alternatives.
A better fit!
Both Maddison and Grealish have been critical to their team’s fortunes this season at different ends of the table. It can be argued that either of them would represent a better fit for the United midfield than Fernandes.
Maddison has been one of the Leicester’s stars as they push for Champions League qualification whereas Villa would be 4 points worse off at 19th if not for Grealish’s goals.
Both the players have experience of playing in the English top-flight and will not need a bedding-in period.
Fernandes does have better numbers than either of the player. But then Grealish and Maddison have performed at a higher level in the English Premier League.
Paying over the odds will not help United in the long term. It sets a precedent with other clubs likely to hold them for ransom.
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The 2-0 loss to Liverpool highlighted the gulf in quality that now exists between United and the Premier League elite.
A massive rebuild is required in the coming windows as the Red Devils look to close the gap to their arch-rivals. Rather than overspending on foreign players who present an element of risk, United can look at domestic alternatives. As Liverpool have shown of late, there is quality available if you are willing to look for it.
Man United keen to reinforce midfield with this 24-year-old La Liga ace
Manchester United are keen on signing Marcos Llorente
Manchester United are keen on reinforcing their midfield by signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The 24-year-old who plays for Atletico Madrid has impressed at the Wanda Metropolitano following his move from city rivals Real Madrid.
Llorente has made 17 appearances for Atletico this season , with a majority of them coming off the bench.(h/t Whoscored)
Having started just 3 La Liga matches this season, a loan move to United could be of interest to both parties.
The Red Devils are currently short of players in midfield after the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
Llorente is an assured passer of the ball and can play in central midfield in both a defensive and a holding role.
He is also an aggressive ball winner and will add much-needed energy in the United midfield. At 6 feet tall, Llorente is also an imposing presence who can deal with the physical aspect of the Premier League.
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The Spaniard came through the Real Madrid academy and has made 22 appearances for the Los Blancos.
He was a part of the Real Madrid squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2018.
Man United veteran agrees to move to Serie A side for £1.3million in January
United skipper Ashley Young agrees to move to Inter Milan
The 34-year-old will undergo a medical on Friday prior to signing an 18-month deal with the Italian giants.
Young will join up with former United teammates Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as Antonio Conte’s side aim to win their first Serie A in 10 years.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. United were initially reluctant to sanction the player’s move in the middle of the season.
With the player keen on the switch and the prospect of losing him on a free in the summer seem to have convinced the United hierarchy to cash in on the veteran in the January transfer window.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
The veteran, who started off as a winger has predominantly played at full-back for United the previous few seasons.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season
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United are 5th in the league, 5 points off Chelsea in fourth ahead of the match against arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield.