Jose Mourinho has spoken out about the recent criticism of Manchester United’s performances, implying that there was a double standard in the media when it came to judging the way his side goes about winning games compared to the likes of Tottenham Hotspur.
Performances against Liverpool, Benfica and Huddersfield following the international break lacked the attacking potency that hallmarked Man United’s scintillating start to the campaign and the media reaction was, somewhat predictably, toxic towards Mourinho’s methods.
Successive wins over Swansea City, Tottenham and Benfica – all clean sheets – over the last week were still met with a measure of ambivalence.
And Mourinho, speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit to Chelsea, was quick to vent his frustration at the recent reception of his side’s performances.
“I don’t want to comment,” he said. “Because if I comment I’m going to do a job that’s not my job and sometimes I feel I could or should and sometimes I need to cool down and think I shouldn’t.”
“I know that it’s a different way of analysing things for this reason or that reason. Similar performances for some clubs are magic are examples of brilliant tactics and amazing attitude by the players and for other teams the same time of performance is seen as negative.
“But honestly just as an example Spurs beat Liverpool and Real Madrid and Tottenham didn’t score against Manchester United so at least a little bit of credit my players deserve.”
Man United have claimed 16 wins from 19 games, suffering just one defeat since the UEFA Super Cup, have 12 clean sheets, and find themselves second in the Premier League alongside being all but guaranteed to top their Champions League group.
And yet, in spite all of this, the consensus amongst those observing states that United are underperforming.
Question marks continue to encircle Mourinho’s side, despite their clear capacity to win games and stifle opponents. After all, the team that smashed the European champions on Wednesday hardly looked like scoring at Old Trafford, and yet this hasn’t been recognised.
And you can tell it annoys Mourinho. The contrast of perception towards him and Pep Guardiola – universally hailed for his side’s superb start to the 2017/18 campaign – is more than pronounced than it should be. Of course, Manchester City have started better, but United have hardly started badly either.
Mourinho will be used to this particular dynamic, and his to-the-point response, above anything, shows that the fire still burns bright in his belly.