Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho / AFP PHOTO / GEOFF CADDICK /
Jose Mourinho took a swipe at his old club Chelsea as the Manchester United boss accused the Premier League leaders of lacking style.
Mourinho’s side cruised to a 3-0 victory at Leicester on Sunday and he was quick to highlight the difference between the dominant United display and what he perceives as the more prosaic efforts of Antonio Conte’s men.
Frustrated by criticism of the cautious nature of his teams when he was in charge at Chelsea, Mourinho made it clear that he is unimpressed the way the Blues, currently nine points clear at the top, and also Tottenham and Liverpool, have been praised despite employing safety-first philosophies.
“My team is playing very well but for many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and phenomenal defensively I listened week after week to people saying that was not enough, despite winning the title three times,” Mourinho said.
“This season it looks that being strong defensively and good on the counter attack is art. That is a big change in England.
“We are Manchester United, we want to play attacking football. This is the way the fans want us to play.
“But I don’t want to be a manager of a team that doesn’t win matches. We have to score goals. Today we did and that made the difference. Today was very important.”
Mourinho’s claims seemed a little harsh, but he was in typically mischievous mood and even referenced his demise as Chelsea boss last season, which came following a defeat at Leicester.
“The last time I was in this chair I was sacked a day later,” he said with a smirk before bringing an end to his post-match press conference at the King Power Stadium.
Mourinho’s buoyant outlook was a contrast to his sulky demeanour following last week’s draw against Hull and the key to his mood swing was Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the United midfielder who tormented Leicester with his subtle passing and clever movement.
– Emotional –
Mkhitaryan scored United’s opener and set up the third for Juan Mata after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had doubled the visitors’ lead.
Mourinho acknowledged the first goal had been crucial as it boosted his team’s belief and shattered Leicester’s already fragile morale.
“We missed the first big chance but scored the next one. That is the story of the game,” he said.
“We didn’t play better than in many other matches. We were solid, but we scored goals.
“It makes all the difference. In the second half you are in emotional and tactical control.
“You kill the emotion of the opponent and the whole game looks different.”
Having left Mkhitaryan out at the start of the season, Mourinho is now convinced the Armenian has adapted to the Premier League.
“If a player isn’t playing sometimes it can seem the manager is disturbing them, but that is not true,” he said.
“Sometimes the best way to protect the player is not to play him. Henrikh is one of these cases, you see the magic things he does.”
Meanwhile, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri insists he still has the backing of his players after their fourth successive defeat left them one point above the relegation zone.
Reports have suggested the Italian has lost some support among the troubled champions, but he is adamant they are together and can still avoid crashing out of the league a year after their shock title triumph.
“Everybody is frustrated. Of course we aren’t happy, we are very sad,” he said.
“I have said if the players don’t want me they can go to the owner, but they have not.
“We are together, solid like last season but without the results. That is the hard thing.
“We will fight until the end. Leicester is a club used to fighting. I’m confident about this.”