Jose ex­presses con­cern

> Mour­inho be­lieves his side have dropped six points by not win­ning games they dom­i­nated, while Phil Jones ad­mits Arse­nal’s late equaliser felt ‘like be­ing slapped 6-0’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY TIM RICH

JOSE MOUR­INHO’S men­tor, Sir Bobby Rob­son, had a favourite say­ing when­ever he was asked what might have been. “If is the biggest word in foot­ball, son.”

When he re­turned to his suite at Manch­ester’s Lowry Ho­tel, af­ter what felt like his first de­feat to Arsene Wenger, Mour­inho would have been rolling foot­ball’s biggest word around his mind.

His last three matches at Old Traf­ford, against Stoke, Burn­ley and now Arse­nal were games Manch­ester United had con­trolled. The first two they had ut­terly dom­i­nated. Their re­turn had been three points.

Satur­day’s per­for­mance against Arse­nal should have de­liv­ered some­thing Mour­inho had been search­ing for since his ar­rival at Old Traf­ford – a win against one of the big beasts of the Premier League. In­stead, his re­turn was a 1-1 draw.

“We should have had six more points, which we to­tally de­served,” he said.

“If we had six more points, just see where we would be.” The answer to Mour­inho’s ques­tion was that Manch­ester United would be sand­wiched be­tween Arse­nal and Tot­ten­ham in fifth. The climb would be one place but in terms of prox­im­ity to the oxy­gen of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball, it would be a gi­ant leap.

Of the three teams that had taken points from Old Traf­ford, Arse­nal had the best record in this cor­ner of Manch­ester and they had not won here for a decade. Stoke’s last win had come in 1976 and Burn­ley’s in 1962. Mour­inho de­scribed their three draws as “three mir­a­cles”, which given that Arse­nal had rather more pos­ses­sion on Satur­day, could be counted as an ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

How­ever, frus­tra­tion is eat­ing away at the man­ager and his team. Phil Jones, re­turn­ing to United’s de­fence at home for the first time since Jan­uary, com­mented: “It feels like we have been slapped 6-0.” The re­al­ity was that Olivier Giroud’s 89th-minute equaliser was Arse­nal’s sole at­tempt on tar­get.

On Sun­day, they face West Ham, who have not won here since May 2007 when Car­los Tevez’s goal kept them in the Premier League, al­though Neil Warnock, whose Sh­effield United side was rel­e­gated as a re­sult, will for­ever men­tion that Sir Alex Fer­gu­son fielded a weak­ened side.

“At least I want some­one to come here and play bet­ter than us,” said Mour­inho.

“Then you can go home and say: ‘these guys were bet­ter’. I am go­ing home and the feel­ing is that we lost.”

A club with the high­est wage bill in world foot­ball can only ar­gue ill-luck for so long and the fact is that a third suc­ces­sive Manch­ester United man­ager is on course to fail to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League, some­thing that proved fa­tal to the ca­reers of both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Mour­inho might just sur­vive the £40m hit that ac­com­pa­nies the Alaska that is life out­side the Cham­pi­ons League and the ab­sence of the sus­pended Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic added to the de­cline of Wayne Rooney meant he fielded the young, fast com­bi­na­tion of Marcus Rash­ford and An­thony Mar­tial.

“Arse­nal are a team that let the op­po­nents play,” he said.

“I thought we would have space and the ball would ar­rive quite eas­ily to the at­tack­ing play­ers.

“I be­lieved that ones like Mata, Mar­tial and Rash­ford were faster than Wayne and were bet­ter at at­tack­ing op­po­nents one to one in the last line of de­fence. I thought it was the best op­tion.”

There was a time when Rooney, who as an Ever­ton teenager an­nounced him­self with a stag­ger­ingly bril­liant goal against a far bet­ter Arse­nal side than this, was some­times Manch­ester United’s only op­tion.

In a Manch­ester United side that is still search­ing for rhythm and flu­ency he has not started a league game since Septem­ber. That is wor­thy of far more com­ment than any star turn at wed­ding party. – The In­de­pen­dent


Arse­nal’s Olivier Giroud (left) scores his team’s equal­is­ing goal dur­ing their English Premier League match against Manch­ester United at Old Traf­ford on Satur­day. –

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