Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes Jose Mourinho was wrong make a defensive substitution during the closing stages of Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
Jose Mourinho, with his side 1-0 up at Goodison Park, brought off Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Marouane Fellaini in the 86th minute as Everton begun to launch an aerial onslaught.
But the Belgian, instead of providing defensive muscle, derailed Man United’s afternoon with a mindless foul on Idrissa Gueye in the 89th minute, gifting Leighton Baines a chance to convert from the spot.
Redknapp, speaking after the game, criticised Mourinho for adopting a defensive approach against Ronald Koeman’s side.
“I cannot remember the last time a manager made a defensive-minded substitution to close out a 1-0 win and still managed to hang on,” he said.
“That kind of change used to work for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea but now it just invites the opponent to attack. It is becoming harder to cling on in the Premier League — teams keep on pushing and pressing for an equaliser.
“Marouane Fellaini, who came on for Henrikh Mkhitaryan with five minutes to go, will be blamed for giving away the penalty that saw Everton snatch a late draw against Manchester United.
“But if Mkhitaryan had not been taken off, he could have picked the key pass to seal the win.”
First of all, since Redknapp ‘cannot remember the last time a manager made a defensive-minded substitution to close out a 1-0 win and still managed to hang on’, let me give him a recent example: November 20th, 2016 – Chelsea are leading 1-0 at Middlesbrough and Antonio Conte brings off Pedro for Nathaniel Chalobah in the 80th minute and – yes, you guessed it – saw his side see out a 1-0 win, taking them to the top of the table. So there you go, Jamie.
Secondly, the notion that Mourinho has been plagued by an overly defensive style at Old Trafford is grossly off the mark. United’s problem is their failure to take the numerous chances they create, rather than being a stagnant, impotent machine, as seen against Stoke City, Burnley, Arsenal and West Ham United.