Football

Mourinho wants more from fans

United boss calls for more vibrancy from supporters for Liverpool clash

Jose Mourinho has challenged Manchester United fans to up their game for Sunday's Premier League home clash with Liverpool following the 2-0 League Cup semi-final, first-leg win over Hull at Old Trafford yesterday morning (Singapore time).

United boss Mourinho also stressed the need for improvement from himself and his players as he urged supporters not to "come to the theatre" on Sunday, but "come to play with us".

After second-half goals from Juan Mata and substitute Marouane Fellaini steered his side to victory against the Tigers, Mourinho expressed his concerns, saying: "Maybe I didn't do my job well to prepare the players for the game.

"But the players have to improve and I have to improve, and I am sorry to say but also the fans have to improve for the big match on Sunday.

"Our performances (for the Hull match) were enough to win but, for Sunday, we all have to improve."

He added: "We are responsible for the fans' participation in the game. If we play very well, very enthusiastic, they come to the pitch and play with us.

"When we don't play so well, with so much emotion and intensity, it is normal that they relax a little bit.

"We have absolutely amazing fans. What I feel is that Sunday is a special match for us, a special match for the Manchester United fans - so my invitation is don't come to the theatre, come to play, play with us."

Despite what he called an "important'' result having been achieved, Mourinho said his team "played slow" and "complicated things" - although he did admit that, with United winning nine consecutive games in all competitions, he "cannot ask more" of his players.

He was full of praise for Fellaini, who has been jeered by some United fans but heard his name being chanted around Old Trafford after his late goal, which the midfielder celebrated by hugging his manager.

INJURY WOES FOR HULL

Mourinho said of the Belgian: "He has a very strong mentality. Scoring an important goal for us, he changed the dynamic and the empathy with the fans.

"He is always supported by myself. He knows he is a very important player for me."

Mourinho also said he expects striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, absent against Hull due to illness, to be available on Sunday.

Hull are struggling for numbers to the extent that manager Marco Silva named a bench of only six substitutes and they subsequently lost Markus Henriksen and Josh Tymon to injury during the game.

Silva felt they did well to cause United as many problems as they did.

He said: "We didn't have all the players to prepare for this game. We had many problems to solve in the last days.

"Of course, I am not happy with the result, because I want more always for my team, but I'm happy with our performance." - PA SPORT

LEAGUE CUPManchester UnitedHull City