Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted he would have picked a different team in hindsight after their 2-1 home defeat in the derby against Manchester City on Saturday.
Mourinho opted to pick Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard as wide players, while leaving out Anthony Martial and Juan Mata. Both Mkhitaryan and Lingard were substituted off at half-time after lacklustre displays while City dominated in a classy display.
Mourinho told Sky Sports: “Honestly, I had two or three players in the first half who, if I knew what I know now, I don’t play them. But this is football. Sometimes players disappoint managers. Sometimes they give great surprises.
“They didn’t give me what I want. It’s their fault and it’s my fault because I’m the manager.”
United fell 2-0 behind following goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho before Zlatan Ibrahimovic cut the deficit shortly before half-time after a blunder from City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Discussing the match, Mourinho added: “In the first half, they were much better. We started the game badly. Some players were really below their normal level. We needed to be sharp. The team paid for it.
“The second half was completely different. When they brought on Fernando so soon, it’s because they felt we were in control, much more dangerous.”
In his postmatch news conference, Mourinho added: “I didn’t change after 20 minutes because I didn’t want to destroy the players. At half-time, we changed the direction of the game but we didn’t get the compensation we deserved in the second half.
“We were not in control [in the first half] and the team was not improving — and it is difficult to improve only by words on the touchline. In the first half, we were doing many things wrong.”
Mourinho also said that certain players had failed to follow his instructions, singling out defender Eric Bailly, who had been impressive for United up until the derby.
The United manager explained: “What I told them at half-time was that ‘for some of you, it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do.’ I told [Eric] Bailly not to play a certain ball — never, because this is where they want to press. He did it 20 times during the game. Some of the boys felt the dimension of the game.”
Arindam is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport