Jose Mourinho hits out at his players after Saint-Etienne win
Jose Mourinho has revealed that he needed to give his players a half-time dressing down as he accused them of ‘lacking focus’ in their Europa League clash against Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford.
United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in their last-32 clash, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick clearing the way for Mourinho’s side to make progress in the competition.
Yet the United boss was irate with his players as he gathered them for their half-time briefing, after admitting he sensed their mood was not right prior to kick-off.
“I had a feeling in the dressing room immediately it was too noisy, too funny, too relaxed,” he stated.
“Then my assistants had a feeling in the warm up that some of the guys were not really focused on getting the right adrenalin in their bodies.
“Then the game started and the first thing we did was a back pass to a striker to be face-to-face with Sergio (Romero).
“So a lack of concentration and when you don’t have it, it’s difficult to recover it.
“I could tell from the touchline that it was difficult and I needed the communication at half-time. We were lucky to be 1-0 up at half-time, but second half was a different story and a different result.
“I know that Champions League is the competition everyone wants to win, I know that. But we don’t play Champions League, we play Europa League.
“If we don’t play Champions League, I would rather play Europa League than to sit at home and watch TV.
“We had this in the group stages. When we needed to win, we did it. When the focus is there, we answer and in the first half, we were too relaxed.
“Then in the second half, with the right attitude and the right intensity, we created problems. I am not happy with it. It could have been 1-1 at half-time.
“If we get into the last-16, we will have the right attitude. Lots of good teams will be in the next round, big teams, Champions League teams. Let’s do the right result and then the motivation will come.”
Mourinho insisted he would field a strong team for the second leg of the tie in France next week, which will be played a few days before his side’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton at Wembley.
“To score three goals first leg away from home, I am happy,” he added.
“It is not over, but it is a good result. I always respect football and I know football can be nasty to you, so I go with a strong team.
“We know that when we go there, the (EFL Cup) final is near and the focus may be on the final, so we need to be careful."