Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has defended his recent team selections after making several changes for Friday’s defeat to Brighton and blasting his players for not being “good enough”.
United fell to a 1-0 defeat after Pascal Gross’ 57th minute strike and were outplayed by their hosts, particularly in the first half of the game.
Mourinho started several ‘fringe’ players, such as Marouane Fellaini, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as the Red Devils sunk to below-par levels at the Amex.
“Not good enough,” Mourinho explained, “because the players that replaced others didn’t perform at a good level and when individuals don’t perform at a good level, it’s difficult for the team to perform at a good level. Maybe now you understand why some players play more than others and you don’t ask why A, B or C don’t play more.”
Mourinho went on to further defend his team selections, adding: “I wouldn’t say I am disappointed because I know them [the players] but for some of them, the possibility to start the game, the possibility to give reason to the ones that during the season are always critical towards my choices – why always Lukaku, why always Lukaku, why always Lukaku.
“Now you have the answer why always Lukaku. Why always this? Why always that? You have the answer.
“Probably we are not as good individually as people think and I keep saying that to finish in the top four is great and it’s more than great if we finish second, but now we need four points and we must try to get them.”
However, Mourinho was also full of praise for Brighton, who he says were ‘obviously stronger’ than United and ‘had more appetite’ with their Premier League safety on the line.
“My players, if you ask them, they will tell you that I told them before the match what was going to happen and I told them at half-time what was going to happen. I knew it and I told them, but that’s what we got.
“Of course, we had a positive reaction in the last 20 minutes. But that’s obviously normal because nobody likes to lose and when you are losing the game, you always try and when a team that is winning can feel that victory is so important for them, it’s normal that they feel a bit of pressure and in the end they defended more and gave the ball more to the opponent.
“That’s what happened – it’s normal and we couldn’t score a goal and get a point. Overall, and especially during the first half, they were obviously stronger than us, with more appetite. They felt the game with different emotions.”
A lack of urgency and importance from the Manchester United players upset Mourinho last night but reiterated his praise for Brighton, who gave ‘absolutely everything they had to give’, according to the United boss.
He added: “I didn’t succeed in persuading my players that the four points we need to finish second doesn’t look very important for them. For me, it is, but for some of my players, it doesn’t look like it’s very important and obviously, for the Brighton boys, a point would probably be enough for them and means a lot to them to give absolutely everything they had to give. They got the bonus of their attitude.”
Manchester United now need four points to guarantee a second-place finish in the Premier League as Tottenham, in fourth, can still catch them due to their game in hand.