Jose Mourinho condemned Manchester United’s wastefulness, sloppiness and poor decision making and claimed his defenders had every right to be furious with the attacking players after his team’s profligacy again came back to hurt them.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan put United in front in the first half only for Leander Dendoncker to equalise late on for Anderlecht to consign Mourinho’s side to their 10th 1-1 draw of the season and boost the Belgians’ chances of an upset in the second leg of this Europa League quarter-final next Thursday.
United have now drawn 14 of their 52 matches this term.
Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba missed good chances to kill off Anderlecht in the second half before Dendoncker’s header, and Mourinho responded by offering a scathing assessment of United’s forward play.
“We have to kill matches,” Mourinho said. “We have chances to score. We don’t score goals. Sloppy is maybe the right word in my poor English. You have to play more seriously. If we put together the performances of two or three of our attacking players and you squeeze you get not much juice out of it.
“The result should be much better and we can only blame ourselves because we had an easy game to play in the second half and we didn’t play in attack with that instinct. We lost the ball easily too many times, we stopped our counter attacks because of sloppy touches, sloppy decisions, and then we gave them the opportunity to have some counter attacks and luckily our defenders were very much in the game and they resolved all these problems.
“But if I was a Manchester United defender, I would be very upset with the attacking players because they have to kill the game and they didn’t.”
Mourinho has called for far more from the likes of Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford in recent weeks and the Portuguese was again left frustrated by their contributions.
“It was a strong performance by the team from a defensive point of view,” he said. “Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, they did defensively what we asked them to do, to compact the team, to control direct opponents, to cover some spaces, we were very solid defensively and that is not just about the defenders.
“But when the team is broken and we go to counter attack we cannot lose so many balls. It’s not just about the chances we missed because we did not miss so many chances, it’s about half chances. The chances when the time and space is there but then sometimes the decision is wrong.
“Sometimes you have to play two touches, but you play one touch and lose the ball, other times you keep the ball, take one more touch and lose it. The decisions were wrong and probably the only time where everything was correct - the timing, the touches, the decisions - was Paul’s shot, which was a good save by the keeper. But obviously this is what’s happened to us all season, we have control, we have chances but we don’t score.”
Asked what he could do about United's errant finishing, Mourinho replied: "Good question, difficult answer."
Michael Carrick echoed Mourinho’s complaints. “I think we were so in control in the first half but we got sloppy,” the United midfielder said. “We needed to kill the game off but we didn’t do it. We should have won it comfortably. We need to be more ruthless. We need to kill teams off. It was almost too easy for us at times. 1-0 is one of those score lines where it’s dangerous.
“It’s not the end of the world and we’re still in a good position but we’re better than that, but we’ll look forward to the next game and hopefully go through. We dominated. There was an awful lot of good things but we’ve just got to find that difference.”