“We tried since the first minute” Mourinho defends Man United stars after CL debacle and urges them to focus on FA Cup

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

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.