José Mourinho ‘not under siege’ after Manchester United draw again

Jamie Jackson at Old Trafford on 6 December 2018

José Mourinho insisted he was “not under siege” but was still left frustrated by Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford, saying his team had yet again been their own worst enemies.

The manager had gone into the game under pressure following their tame 2-2 draw at Southampton and the opening up of an eight-point gap with Arsenal for the final Champions League place. It is now four league games without a win for United, but Mourinho was defiant when he was asked about that record on Tuesday night.

“No, not under siege, not at all,” he said. “I feel that is a moment where we play against the team that is at the top of their season, a moment where everything goes well for them – clearly a team on a high against a team with so many problems and the top of these problems during football matches [is] we [virtually] shoot ourselves.

“Today we had a very good start. In the second half Arsenal was trying to stop the game, get one injury here and there. They were trying to reduce the intensity of the game, we score the second goal for them and then it is again 2-1. But the reality is in the last four matches we didn’t lose but had bad results apart from Young Boys [won 1-0 in injury time]. The three draws were three bad results and before that we lost against Manchester City.”

Arsenal’s opener was due to a David De Gea howler that allowed Shkodran Mustafi’s weak 26th-minute header through. Anthony Martial equalised on the half hour before Alexandre Lacazette restored the visitors’ lead, the goal coming after Marcos Rojo allowed Henrikh Mkhitaryan to steal possession.

Mourinho praised the “soul” of his side but hinted his players lack the requisite quality. “The boys left their soul, they left what they have. When sometimes people speak about the quality …” he said, before trailing off.

Asked about their commitment, the manager added: “It’s a positive sign but there are things that I cannot get from them, and I cannot say much more than this. But big soul, everybody gives everything. That is for sure and that is a positive feeling.

“I cannot tell you much more. I prefer just to say that I’m happy with the soul, the commitment, the bravery. I’m really happy with that. Our problem is [we need] a performance like this without the mistakes we made.”

Mourinho said Anthony Martial had limped off as a precaution in the second half while Unai Emery, the manager’s Arsenal counterpart, said the problem that forced Rob Holding off before the interval was “a big injury – his knee”. Aaron Ramsey, who was also substituted, had a minor ankle injury.

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