Michael Owen believes Manchester United fans will not be comfortable watching their team using the kind of negative tactics deployed by manager Jose Mourinho to secure a 0-0 draw in their derby game against Manchester City last week.
In comments that may not be well received by Mourinho, Owen has suggested United should live up to their traditions by playing with more attacking verve.
Mourinho has deployed a ‘cautious’ approach in several away games against teams in the top third of the Premier League this season, with the 0-0 draw at Liverpool back in November another example of the former Chelsea manager diluting the attacking intent of his opponents.
While they are tactics Mourinho has used successfully throughout his trophy-laden career, former United striker Owen suggests the tactics may not be tolerated by some of the club’s followers if it were to continue over an extended period.
Mourinho was highly critical of BT Sport football expert Owen earlier this season after he questioned whether veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic could sustain his impressive form in the Premier League and his exclusive interview with Yahoo Sport UK is likely to hit a raw nerve with the United boss.
“I was brought up watching the great Liverpool and then the great United teams playing wonderful football and that is how I think they should play,” Owen told us.
“I like to see United playing with pace in wide areas, being creative and it doesn’t sit well with me to see them playing like this, but you know what you are going to get with Mourinho and he is very good at killing a game when he needs to.
“If Mourinho gets the results he wants and they win a couple of trophies this season, I guess some people will be happy, but it is not the kind of football you associate with this club.
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“Manchester United played so defensively against City and it is not the first time we have seen Jose Mourinho doing this.
“When he goes to the top clubs in away games, he makes sure he doesn’t get beat. You know what you are going to get with Mourinho and he is very good at killing a game when he needs to.
“It is far easier to play a defensive, negative style of football and get success out of it than it is to play expansive, exciting football.
“What Pep Guardiola did at Barcelona for years was what you want to see from every team. Whoever they played, whatever tactics were thrown at them, they went out to beat you and very few teams can stop them.”
Owen suggests Mourinho could tweak the style of play he deploys in big away games next season, if he is successful in recruiting the attacking players he wants in this summer’s transfer window.
“It is like building a house in many ways,” he continues. “Virtually anyone on this planet could knock one down, but building a new one in its place is much harder and we are waiting to see what Mourinho can do at United.
“There is a reason why attacking players tend to cost more than defenders and that is because they are the ones that can win you matches with moments of magic.
“Well, United probably need to find a few of those this summer because it seems as if Mourinho doesn’t quite believe in his team enough when they play the big teams away.
“I think it is fair to say that Jose Mourinho is more of a cautious coach than he is an expansive one. If you say that to him, he would argue that he would like to play a more attacking style, but he may not have the players to do that at the moment.”
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