Manchester United lost another match to a team that came up from the Championship. Brighton were the ones to beat them this time, as Pascal Gross scored the only goal on Friday night. That means Man United have lost at least once against each of the three promoted teams, as Huddersfield and Newcastle previously managed to get all three points against the Devils.
Yet, this dull match in which United did not create much at all and in which the whole team looked flat, uninspired and often disinterested, Jose Mourinho managed to prove his point. His team maybe lost, but his words in the post-match interview hinted at several things he previously had on his mind.
“Why Always Lukaku?”
“For many months you (media) are always asking me why this player doesn’t play. I think you should be disappointed more than me because probably I know my players better than you and probably you don’t know them so well to be always with these questions.
“I wouldn’t say disappointed, because I know them. I thought for some the possibility to start a game, to give reason to the ones who criticise my choices. Why always Lukaku? You have the answer. We are not as good as individually as people think we are.
“My players if you ask them I told them what was going to happen. I knew it and I told them”, said Mourinho after the game.
We can decipher couple of things from all of this. First of all, he was the most precise about the situation regarding Romelu Lukaku. When the Belgian had a tough spell midway through the season, many were saying Mourinho should give him a rest and change things around. After all, he also has Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Getting Breathing Space
But now that Lukaku is injured, Mourinho simply had to play someone instead of him. And Marcus Rashford was far from delivering that central forward position. He made a couple of big mistakes, and Martial himself was also underwhelming.
What Mourinho wanted from this match is using the players that were mostly on the outskirts of the squad, waiting for their chance. What he got from that was a terrible, unimaginative performance that showed a lot of negatives about certain players media mostly wanted to see playing. There were even rumours about Rashford wanting to leave the club.
Even though they were probably just unfounded rumours, this match showed why Rashford really needs to keep working hard and getting a bigger opportunity. Similar could be said for Martial who could easily start the FA Cup final on the bench, especially after a performance where he lost possession on seven occasions and failed to make a shot on target.
Now this can give Mourinho some breathing space, offering everyone to see how far off this team is from winning the Premier League title. The Devils might finish in second, but that is just a nominal place. What the context offers is exactly the performance from Friday. Far too often did United play in such lackluster manner that Mourinho will definitely need to change a lot in this squad during the summer.