Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United’s injury-hit defence is a little unbalanced, with three left-footers in the back four, and this is affecting the side’s stability.
Although stressing Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are doing their best in the circumstances, and they helped keep clean sheets as a pairing in the home games against Manchester City (in the EFL Cup) and Burnley, the injuries to Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia have been a blow.
Following the Reds’ 2-1 Europa League defeat to Fenerbahce on Thursday, Mourinho was asked at his post-match press conference why his team has been unusually vulnerable at the start of matches, after conceding very early goals at Chelsea and in Istanbul.
“Well, you’ve never seen a Jose Mourinho team play with two left-backs at central defence, and I cannot be critical of the boys, because they do what they can,” he replied.
“They try their best; for Daley [Blind] it is even more difficult to play as a central defender on the right side. It’s completely uncomfortable for him; he cannot even be a good builder of the game, which is one of his good qualities. Marcos is trying hard and is fine, but it’s a very important starting point for the stability of the team.
“Even in matches where we didn’t concede goals with them, against Manchester City and Burnley, they were both home matches and we managed to play with a high percentage of the ball and with the defensive line almost at the halfway line. But it is hard to have a really strong team.”
The manager also explained that the forward players are lacking confidence but he hopes Wayne Rooney’s late strike in Turkey will aid matters ahead of Sunday’s visit to Swansea City in the Premier League.
“We can also speak about the number of goals that we don’t score,” he added. “Not the number of goals that we score, the ones that we don’t score. Sometimes teams don’t score goals because of their philosophy, because the team isn’t aggressive enough and doesn’t risk enough.
“That’s not our case, that’s not our case at all. It is also easy to see that some players in our attacking areas lack confidence; they’re not sharp and getting the chances that they can. Probably one of the only good things today was the fact that Rooney finally scored a goal. This also could be one of the key points in terms of his self-confidence.”