Football

Mourinho frowns at 'fantasy football'

United boss wants Red Devils to show more respect for opponents

Call him The Demanding One.

One would have expected Jose Mourinho to shower praise on his Manchester United charges after the Red Devils made a bright start to their Champions League Group A campaign with a 3-0 win over Basel at Old Trafford yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Instead, an annoyed Mourinho criticising his team for trying to play "fantasy football".

The 54-year-old Portuguese, bidding to win the competition for a third time having taken Porto and Inter Milan all the way, accused his side of switching off after Romelu Lukaku's goal put them 2-0 ahead shortly after the interval, having dominated the first half.

Substitute Marouane Fellaini had scored the first goal in the 35th minute and another replacement Marcus Rashford completed the scoring in the 84th minute.

"Three points are important when you start the group phase at home," Mourinho, who led United to the Europa League title last season in his first campaign in charge, told BT Sport.

"Until 2-0, we were very stable, with confidence and patience, with good choices, played quite well.

"After that, everything changed. We stopped to think, we stopped playing simple, we stopped making the right decisions on the pitch and we could have put ourselves in trouble

"But they didn't score. We tried to play fantasy football, tricks and, when you stop to play seriously, I don't like it.

"You gamble a bit. Maybe they felt the game was under control. But football is football, you have to respect opponents."

Basel did have some chances but never really threatened to punish United for some sloppy second-half passing.

Mourinho, however, will know that those kind of mistakes will be punished by sides with more bite than Basel.

Mourinho's other concern was a hamstring injury that forced Paul Pogba, United's skipper for the day, off just 18 minutes into the game.

The French midfielder, who reportedly left Old Trafford on crutches, could be out for a "few weeks", revealed Mourinho.

"I don't know (what the severity is)," Mourinho told MUTV, the club's in-house television station. "I just know from experience it's a muscular injury, which stops you from playing for a few weeks, I think.

"It looks for me too (like a hamstring injury) but I haven't spoken yet to the medical department."

But Mourinho said he has an ideal stand-in in Fellaini, who replaced Pogba.

"I keep saying the same, Fellaini is a player with special qualities he does things that other players cannot do," said Mourinho.

"He gives me a multiple area of actions and positions and philosophy on the pitch and is one of my most important players."

Forward Rashford, who made his Champions League debut yesterday morning, said that Pogba's loss was a big blow.

"Paul's going to be a massive miss and, hopefully, we can get him back fit as soon as possible," said Rashford, whose goal against Basel extended his record of scoring on his debuts in major competitions.

He had also done so in the Europa League, EPL, League Cup and the World Cup qualifiers for England. - WIRE SERVICES

OTHER RESULT (GROUP A)
Benfica CSKA Moscow
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Champions LeagueManchester UnitedJose Mourinho