There was one word to describe José Mourinho after Manchester United came from behind to top AFC Bournemouth (1-2) on Saturday. Relieved. Still, United went into halftime tied at 1-1. It’s not as though they were losing. But if you ask Mourinho, it should’ve been far worse. And he considers himself (not to mention his team) lucky.
“I said at half-time I was the luckiest manager in the Premier League, to be 1-1 in a half where it should be like 5-2 or 6-2 — we were really lucky because we were really poor,” Mourinho told BT Sport (via ESPN) following the victory.
But why is that? How is it any different from most of the performances we’ve seen from United this season? Well, according to Mourinho, it all starts with the defense. And during Saturday’s first half, the defense simply wasn’t there.
“Defensively awful. Absolutely awful,” he continues. However, he isn’t just talking about his back line. It goes much deeper than that.
“And when I say defensively, I don’t just look to my defenders, I look to the team. As a team we didn’t start pressing up, the work that we did during the week — I felt like people watching this game, they don’t believe how hard we trained this week … The first half was a disaster. …Then in the second half was exactly the opposite.”
He’s not wrong, of course. United looked lifeless going into halftime — even with the equalizer. But it was a different story in the second half. And even though it took them until the 92nd minute, they got all three points. Three points they very much needed.
“…We deserved to score before the minute 90-something. And in the end, we have this goal that gives us important points,” Mourinho adds.
They still sit behind the team they just beat (on goal differential). Through 11 matches, United are on 20 points and seventh in the table. It’s obviously not idea, but this win is something Mourinho’s side needs to build on. We feel like that’s been said a lot this season. Yet, it continues to be true. Up next, they host Juventus in their fourth UCL group match. Then on Sunday, November 11, they take on City.
Needless to say, the Red Devils will need to be near their best.