Jose Mourinho defended Manchester United’s lack of ambition as he once again threw a blanket over the biggest game in English football.
United’s unbeaten start to the season continued after they ground out a 0-0 draw at Liverpool but they needed a stunning save from David De Gea to deny Joel Matip to escape with a seventh clean sheet in eight Premier League matches.
This is the second time Mourinho has brought a United team to Anfield but, in those games, they have managed just two shots on target – one from Zlatan Ibrahimovic 12 months ago and another from Romelu Lukaku on Saturday.
Mourinho bristled when it was put to him that his team lacked ambition and he claimed that Jurgen Klopp’s tactics prevented the game from opening up and becoming a spectacle, likening the second half to a game of chess.
‘It depends what for you is an entertaining game,’ said Mourinho.
‘One thing is an entertaining game for fans, another thing is entertaining game for the people who read football in a different way. That’s different. My opponent didn’t open the door for me to win the game.
‘I’m not criticising (Klopp). As a coach you are on the bench and you try to anticipate things and I had no midfielder to do what I could do many, many times which is to be with three strong midfield players and then give more freedom to my three attacking players.
‘I couldn’t do that, I had no Fellaini, no Pogba, no Carrick, nothing at all. The only chance I had to change the direction of the game was to bring on players with one against one, bring on players with speed. This is what I told the players at half-time: maybe Liverpool were going to change.
The Portuguese added:
‘Anyone makes the game he wants, or tries. Sometimes you try and the game doesn’t go in the direction you want. It’s simple. If you score a goal in the first half then the second half is different because then he risks, he changes structure.
‘When I brought on (Jesse) Lingard and (Marcus) Rashford I was waiting for him to give me more space but he didn’t give me it. I know you think we were defensive and they were offensive. Well, you were at home and you don’t move anything? I don’t know. I was waiting for that. He didn’t.’