The Portuguese has suggested that the Red Devils perform better against the top teams due to being able to sit back and absorb pressure

Jose Mourinho has aimed a subtle dig at Manchester United for their “defensive approach” in a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

The Portuguese returned to the Theatre of Dreams in the opposite dugout 11 months after being relieved of his managerial duties, but failed to get one over on his former employers.

Tottenham had secured three wins on the bounce in the wake of Mourinho’s appointment as their new head coach on November 20, beating West Ham and Bournemouth in the Premier League while also earning a victory against Olympiacos in the Champions League.

They were, however, unable to match a well organised United side who had a point to prove after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa on Sunday.

A Marcus Rashford brace ensured that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men got back to winning ways, with Dele Alli’s superb 39th-minute strike ultimately counting for nothing.

Tottenham had more possession throughout the 90 minutes but struggled to cope with United’s pace on the counter, with Mourinho quick to point out their simple, but effective tactics after the match.

“United results against the best teams this season have been good. Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester,” he said.

“For the way they play, it is easier for them. They are not afraid to have a defensive approach.

“It is easier for them against better teams, against teams who want more of the ball.”

Mourinho added on Rashford’s second goal marking the turning point in the match: “We started the second half with a goal that it is impossible to concede. 

“We were not alert, sleeping at the throw-in and we let Rashford attack.

“Once he is inside the box it’s more difficult to defend and he was clever and waited for the touch. 

“In the first half they started more aggressive and more intense and deserved to be in front, maybe even 2-0, then we took control of the game. 

“The goal at the start of the second half gave United the chance to play the way they did.”

Mourinho did, however, concede that United deserved to win for the intensity they showed during the opening half-hour at Old Trafford.

“United were more aggressive in the first 30 minutes, more intense, so they deserve to win,” he said.

“I knew United at home would use the crowd, they’ve got a lot of young players and I knew they’d want to press and play with intensity, I told my players, but they couldn’t react.”

Tottenham slipped to eighth in the top flight after their fifth defeat of the 2019-20 campaign, nine points behind fourth-place Chelsea, who beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

On where Spurs need to improve going forward Mourinho concluded: “I know that this team needs to be more aggressive.

“We need to win more duels, we need to start the game with more intensity. We need to make the opponent feel what United made us feel.

“You need to make opponents feel like they’re going to be in trouble. We were reactive rather than proactive.”


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