Manchester: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has risked angering the club’s supporters by saying that Tuesday’s tame Champions League exit was “nothing new” for the club as he pointed to his past success against them.
United suffered a shock exit in the last 16 with a 2-1 defeat by Sevilla after substitute Wissam Ben Yedder struck twice at Old Trafford. The Spaniards sealed a 2-1 aggregate victory having drawn the first leg 0-0 in Spain.
Speaking after the match, Mourinho said United had failed to progress despite giving their best then proceeded to talk about his victories over his current club when he managed Porto in 2004 and Real Madrid five years ago.
“I sat in this chair twice in the Champions League after knocking out Manchester United [in the last 16] at home, at Old Trafford,” Mourinho said.
“In this chair with Porto and Real Madrid, they are out both times. It is not something new for the club… I don’t want to make a drama out of it, we don’t have time for that,” the Portuguese manager added.
With their campaign in Europe’s elite club competition cut short, United will turn their attention to the FA Cup, a competition in which they host Brighton and Hove Albion in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
“We have no time to be sad for more than 24 hours. That’s football, it’s not the end of the world,” Mourinho said.
Manchester United fans had just two days to savour their win over arch-rivals Liverpool before Sevilla brought them back down to earth. It was a disjointed display lacking conviction at times and strikingly different from the combative performance shown against Liverpool.
Mourinho’s decision to change the team, which played with great discipline and desire in the 2-1 Premier League win over Liverpool on Saturday was puzzling, especially given the alterations it forced across the field.
Marcus Rashford, so brilliant on the left with his two goals in the North West derby, was moved to the right flank while Alexis Sanchez, who had looked promising playing just behind Romelu Lukaku, was switched back to the left wing.
Scott McTominay, a calm defensive midfield presence against Liverpool was left out to make way for Marouane Fellaini, who only returned from injury last week, and Juan Mata made way for Jesse Lingard.
Whatever the motivation for the changes, whether tactical or rotation for freshness, the line-up simply did not work.
Chilean Sanchez has yet to settle in at Old Trafford following his January move from Arsenal and he appears to be lacking confidence and unsure of his role.
Rashford showed moments of his devastating acceleration and directness but he is more effective when cutting in from the left and Lingard’s running straight at the Sevilla defence produced little other than lost possession.
With Nemanja Matic alone in the defensive midfield role, Fellaini was all over the midfield in his usual aggressive fashion but provided little composure or balance.
While Sevilla certainly did not sparkle, until the two stunning late goals from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder won the game, they had the calmness in midfield that was lacking from United’s display.
Former Blackburn and Stoke midfielder Steven N’Zonzi was a cool and accomplished presence in the centre of the field while Ever Banega was inventive in his playmaker role.
Mourinho accepted his team had to improve in all areas to progress further next season but was not in the mood to criticise his team.
“We had good periods, we didn’t have great control over the game, but I can’t say there was anything wrong with my players and their intention to play,” he said.