The fallout continues from Manchester United’ surprise defeat to Watford on Sunday.
The 3-1 result was one thing, but the performance of José Mourinho’s side was so disjointed and aimless that the home side were full value for their win.
Mourinho has admitted that ‘the pressure is already growing’ amid concerns that Man United’s hitherto strong start to the season is in danger of giving way to a period of sluggishness and poor form.
Which is hardly ideal, especially this early into the season.
The manager blamed mistakes – collective, individual and refereeing – for the defeat, which saw his side condemned to a third straight defeat – something that has not happened to Mourinho in a single season since 2002.
In particular, Mourinho blamed a lack of pressing for Watford’s second goal – scored by substitute Juan Zúñiga less than a minute after coming on – and singled out Luke Shaw for failing to press the Watford attack properly.
The goal swung the tie in Watford’s favour with just six minutes remaining, just a few minutes after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had nearly won it for the away side.
He told the media after the defeat:
“The first Man City goal and this second goal against Watford — you can find an incredible similarity, which is [Aleksandar] Kolarov has the ball in a difficult situation in the corner and my players, instead of going up to press they decide to give space.
“And here for the second goal, [Nordin] Amrabat receives the ball and our left-back (Shaw) is 25 metres from him instead of 5 metres. But even at 25 metres, you have to jump and go and press, but no, we wait.
“This is a tactical but also a mental attitude. It’s something that doesn’t become perfect in a couple of weeks.”
Of course, this being Mourinho, the referee had to come in for some criticism, just as the officials had done in Manchester United’s last two defeats to Man City and Feyenoord.
Mourinho continued, and outlined three reasons for their consecutive defeats:
“I can split these defeats into three factors — one, the referee’s crucial mistakes are not in my control, there is nothing I can do about that.
“But against Man City you know what happened in minute 55 [Claudio Bravo’s challenge on Wayne Rooney]. You know that happened for the fist goal here and against Feyenoord there was the offside goal.
“Secondly there is lucky and unlucky. It’s part of the game.
“The third thing is what is my hands, which is the improvement of the team and the individuals. Try to stop with the defensive mistakes. I knew that I had a task.”
Man United take on League One side Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, where one would presume the losing streak will come to an end, before welcoming Premier League champions Leicester City to Old Trafford next weekend.