Jose Mourinho launched a scathing attack on Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan after Manchester United’s draw against West Bromwich Albion dealt a big blow to their top-four hopes.
The United manger warned the quartet they were not ruthless enough, criticised their poor goal returns this season and told the players they must become more consistent if they are to succeed under him at Old Trafford.
United’s eighth draw in the Premier League at home this season left Mourinho’s side four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, who play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata, United’s two leading scorers, were missing through suspension and injury respectively – and it showed, with only three of the team’s 18 shots against West Brom finding the target. Lingard has scored once in the league this season while Rashford, who has not scored in the league for over six months, Martial and Mkhitaryan have three goals each in the competition. Wayne Rooney, a late substitute, has two league goals.
Mourinho wants to sign Antoine Griezmann, the Atlético Madrid and France striker, in the summer and this performance appears only have bolstered his desire to reinforce his attack.
“I think in football, especially in teams that want to win things, you need consistency in the individuals,” Mourinho said. “In some other clubs where you play for top 10, a player with talent is always welcome even if that talent is not consistent, even if that talent is one day yes, one day no. But in games at this level you need to be consistent.
“Today for 90 minutes Antonio Valencia was consistent, Ashley Young was consistent, Marcos Rojo was consistent, Eric Bailly was consistent, Marouane Fellaini was consistent, Michael Carrick was consistent, but the other ones were not consistent.
“A flash of talent, a glimpse of talent, one action, almost a goal, but we need to kill opponents. This is déjà vu all season. When you score a goal against these teams, you don’t win 1-0. You win three or four nil. You score a goal and then the game is open and you have a totally different story because they have to play a different way.
“We are not consistent on this, we miss easy chances, we have moments or periods where you push but then a couple of players disappear and then for 10 minutes you don’t see them. It’s always the same people, always the same guys in front of the train pulling the train. So it’s disappointing, yes.
“The goals we score in relation to our production, our dominance is a big contradiction. [Given] the number of goals we score at home, someone who doesn’t know might think we’re a defensive team, a team that waits for an opponent’s mistake, who doesn’t push or have control or ambition – and it’s completely the opposite.
“But you see how many goals during the season Rashford, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial, score. See how many goals they score. Zlatan and Mata are the ones with more goals. Zlatan for sure, Mata after him, and if they are not [here] the situation becomes even more difficult.”
Mourinho also got irritated when Conor McNamara, a reporter for the BBC, asked if him United and West Brom had cancelled each other out and it was a meeting of two evenly balanced sides. “You think so, really?” an incredulous Mourinho replied. “You think that’s a question? You think the game was like that?”
Mourinho v McNamara full transcript
Mourinho reacted with a degree of incredulity and indignation when McNamara, a BBC reporter, asked the Manchester United manager if West Brom and his side had cancelled each other out during the goalless draw at Old Trafford. Here is a transcript of their conversation:
Conor McNamara: Did you cancel each other out today?
Jose Mourinho: I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean by that?
McNamara: Two teams even balanced today?
Mourinho: You think so?
McNamara: I’m asking you?
Mourinho: You think so, really? You think that’s a question?
McNamara: I’m asking because you were smiling with him (Tony Pulis) at the end, was it an acknowledgement that you thought it was...
Mourinho: No, I was smiling because he is my friend. I was not speaking about the game. You think the game was like that?
McNamara: I was asking because you were smiling with him?
Mourinho: I can smile if I win, if I lose, if I draw, it has nothing to do... you were asking a question about the game and you think the game was like you were saying?
McNamara: That’s not what I said. I didn’t think what I said, I’m asking what you think. I’m sorry.
Mourinho: I’m sorry to say but it’s a silly question. When the team cross the midfield line once in 90 minutes and the other team is for 90 minutes with the ball in the opponent’s half trying and trying and trying you are telling me that one team cancelled the other out. We didn’t defend. We had the ball all the time. [David] De Gea was sleeping and because he was sleeping he made that funny thing. I was laughing with that funny thing because it was the only way to react to that.
McNamara: Obviously David De Gea was a pedestrian for much of the game.
Mourinho: Your first question doesn’t have a...
McNamara: The first question was not my opinion Jose. You can continue if you want but that wasn’t my opinion. I’d prefer to talk about the game.
Mourinho: You prefer to talk about the game? One team had the ball, the other team didn’t have the ball. One team tried to win, another team tried to draw. One goalkeeper made a funny thing, the other goalkeeper [Ben Foster] made three phenomenal saves and that was the story of the game.