Jose Mourinho, never one afraid to single out players for poor performances, instead threw his entire team under the bus for the Manchester derby loss, but also took much of the blame for not having them mentally prepared.
Following a comprehensive 2-1 loss to Manchester City at Old Trafford, Mourinho said he wishes he could have changed the whole squad at halftime, but knows there would be fallout from such a drastic move.
“I didn’t change [the team] after 20 minutes because I don’t want to destroy the players,” Mourinho said. “I didn’t want to make three changes at half-time but if there were a free number of changes and changes during the first half were normal … I would have done it after 20 minutes.”
While Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard were singled out by the media after the two were both sacrificed after the break, the Manchester United boss said it wasn’t just those two who were responsible for the loss. “It was not just about them,” Mourinho said. “Other players were not playing really well and obviously it is always my decision. I don’t like to go in the direction of the players and single them out. Lots of our team didn’t play well in the first half and that responsibility is my responsibility.”
Finally, Mourinho said he is still getting to learn the mentality of his players, and that moving forward he can better manage their mental state. “It gets easier when you know the players well. You see how they react. Probably in the next big Premier League game I will know who can accept the dimension of the game, which is important.” He praised the mentality of Marcus Rashford, saying “the kid looks like he is playing for the Under-18s against Salford City” against Manchester City, while other players “felt the dimension of the game and everything around it.”