Mourinho under fire after Euro exit

Source:AFP Published: 2018/3/14 22:58:42

Manchester United knocked out of Champions League by Sevilla

Jose Mourinho was condemned for his negative tactics after Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League to Sevilla, with Alexis Sanchez anonymous and Paul Pogba's confidence apparently in tatters.

United, riding high in the Premier League, started the second leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday as strong favorites to progress to the quarterfinals after a goalless draw in Spain but mustered just four shots on target across both legs.

Two late goals from substitute Wissam ben Yedder gave the home side a mountain to climb and a consolation goal from Romelu Lukaku was far too little, too late, with United exiting the competition 2-1 on aggregate.

Mourinho fielded four forwards - Sanchez, Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard - in an attacking-looking lineup at Old Trafford but United only broke free of the shackles in the desperate closing minutes.

"If you are a team at home, the onus is on you to go out and attack and make sure you take the game away from the opposing team," said former United defender Rio Ferdinand, who won the Champions League under Alex Ferguson in 2008.

The question for fans is why Mourinho is seemingly unable, or unwilling, to set his attacking superstars free.

Pogba, who cost a then world-record 89 million pounds ($124 million) in 2016 as Mourinho's first big signing, was again dropped, this time in favor of the more robust Marouane Fellaini, a ­decision that drew stinging criticism from The Times newspaper.

"Fellaini was by no means United's worst player but what was he there for exactly? To expose what failing in ­Seville? To bring what to United's midfield?" asked The Times' chief sports writer Matt Dickinson.

The Telegraph called United's display "embarrassingly inept."

"There are players in that squad to play good attacking football with the money that's been spent," said former United midfielder Paul Scholes, also part of the team that won the 2008 Champions League.

A major investment was also made to bring Sanchez to the club in January on reportedly the most lucrative contract in Premier League history but he has been a huge disappointment so far.

"Sanchez for one, he just looks a shadow of the player he was," said Ferdinand.

The mounting evidence suggests it is Mourinho's failure to harness the best from his attacking players that is to blame, rather than a clutch of stars going off the boil.

Posted in: SOCCER

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