Champions League: Jose Mourinho is ‘embarrassing’ Man Utd says Paul Scholes
United end goalless against Valencia while Man City win late at Hoffenheim
Group H: Manchester United 0 Valencia 0
Jose Mourinho is an embarrassment to Manchester United. That was the damning assessment of club legend Paul Scholes after another dismal display by the Red Devils last night.
For the fourth successive match, they failed to find a way to beat their opponents and Valencia held out for a precious point in a bore draw that wasn’t a good advert for the Champions League.
Nor was it a good advert for Mourinho whose days at Old Trafford, according to The Times, are “numbered”.
Against a Spanish side that lies 14th in La Liga, and with a team assembled at immense cost, United were unable to outwit their opponents and there was another dispiriting display from midfielder Paul Pogba.
Not that the Frenchman should carry the blame for the 90 mind-numbing minutes that ended with boos reverberating around the Theatre of Dreams.
Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini conjured little creativity in midfield and Alexis Sanchez was industrious but ineffective up front.
Only Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw showed any hunger as United were held to a draw that leaves them second in group H, two points behind Juventus, who beat Young Boys 3-0 in the night’s other group game.
Freedom of speech
Former United midfielder Scholes was brutal in his assessment of Mourinho’s leadership, telling BT Sport that he was “embarrassing the club”.
The Portuguese manager declined to respond to the criticism. When asked about the booing that greeted the final whistle, he said: “Freedom of speech, free country, you can say what you want, especially the Manchester United fans, which I respect 200%.”
Short on quality and confidence
As for his players, Mourinho did his best to defend them at the post-match press conference. But it was a thin defence, evidence perhaps that he has lost confidence in them, as they have in their manager.
“The players tried,” he said. “They raised the level of their efforts. They raised the level of their intensity in spite of the fact we don’t have many with that intensity.
“We don’t have the technical quality to build from the back [and] our attacking players aren’t in their best moments of confidence. There are things that are difficult for me to say and, if I do say, it’s not good for me.”
The Times believes that the United board now have “a decision to make on whether they can let this decline continue”. Either they give Mourinho more time to turn things around, or they sack him.
“They also have to weigh up who can come in at short notice, which basically means only Zinedine Zidane, or stumble on until next summer,” the paper said.
Group F: 1899 Hoffenheim 1 Manchester City 2
The blue half of Manchester enjoyed a better night in Europe, although Pep Guardiola’s side left it late against Hoffenheim.
Having suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Lyon a fortnight ago, City had to win in Germany if they were to have any hope of topping group F.
But they got off to a shocker, conceding a goal after just 43 seconds as Ishak Belfodil drilled the ball through Ederson’s legs and into the net.
Handled the pressure
City levelled six minutes later when Sergio Aguero buried Leroy Sane’s cut-back. Three minutes from time, David Silva pounced on an error from Stefan Posch to score the winner.
With Lyon held 2-2 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, it was a perfect night for City who now trail the French side by just a point.
“What happened on the pitch gave me a lot of good signals for our future,” said Guardiola.
“We had a little pressure because of our [opening] result in this competition… the players deserve credit because we fought against absolutely everything for the result, the pressure and many other things.”
Champions League results, fixtures and TV guide
Last night’s results
Group E AEK Athens 2 Benfica 3 Bayern Munich 1 Ajax 1
Group F Hoffenheim 1 Manchester City 2 Lyon 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 2
Group G CSKA Moscow 1 Real Madrid 0 Roma 5 Viktoria Plzen 0
Group H Juventus 3 Young Boys 0 Manchester United 0 Valencia 0
Tonight’s fixtures (all times UK)
Group A Atletico Madrid vs. Club Brugge (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 3) Borussia Dortmund vs. Monaco (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 2)
Group B PSV Eindhoven vs. Inter Milan (8pm, live on BT Sport ESPN) Tottenham Hotspur vs. Barcelona (8pm, live on BT Sport 2)
Group C Paris Saint-Germain vs. Red Star Belgrade (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 1) Napoli vs. Liverpool (8pm, live on BT Sport 3)
Group D Lokomotiv Moscow vs. FC Schalke 04 (5.55pm, live on BT Sport ESPN) FC Porto vs. Galatasaray (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 4)