Jose Mourinho issued a stark warning to Manchester United’s players and supporters that they must raise their game after claiming what they produced on Tuesday night will not be good enough to beat Liverpool at Old Trafford.
The United manager accused his team of being too slow and ponderous, and over-complicating matters, while he also challenged fans to find their voice for the visit of Liverpool after being disappointed by the subdued atmosphere against Hull City.
“I didn’t do my job well to prepare the players for the game, maybe I should bring more tension to the dynamic,” Mourinho said. “The players have to improve, I have to improve and I’m sorry to say that I think the fans also have to improve for a big match on Sunday. Our performances were enough to win but for Sunday we all have to improve.
“I always think that we are responsible for the fans’ participation in the game. It’s our responsibility. If we play very well, very enthusiastic, the fans come to the pitch and play with us.
“When we didn’t so play well and with so much emotion and intensity it’s normal that the fans relax a little bit. We have amazing fans, I can only say fantastic things about them, especially because you see the real fans when the moment is not good and when the moment was not good we had amazing fans pushing us and supporting us.
“So we have absolutely amazing fans but what I feel is Sunday is a special match for us, for Manchester United supporters, so my invitation is don’t come to the theatre, come to play, play with us.”
Mourinho also wants his team to play with more impetus. “It was not just the finishing, I think we played slow, we complicate things, we had always one more touch, always one more second to delay the decision, and yes we lost some very important chances in front of the goal,” he said.
“But nine victories, I cannot ask more to these guys. Now we need one last effort so let’s recover and focus on Sunday.”
Marouane Fellaini celebrated his goal by making a beeline for Mourinho, who has given his staunch backing to the midfielder after recent difficulties when he was booed by fans against Spurs after conceding a penalty in the previous match at Everton. “That’s the reason why I’m here, it’s to support the players, especially the players in a difficult situation,” Mourinho said.
“But he has a very strong mentality, he coped well with the situation, he was not afraid in the next match after Everton to go to the pitch again and I think he played phenomenal against Reading and today scored an important goal for us and the dynamic and empathy has changed with the fans. He’s always supported by myself. He knows he’s a very important player for me.”