Man United's shock defeat to Sevilla demonstrates Mourinho is out of touch

Man United's shock defeat to Sevilla demonstrates Mourinho is out of touch
From ESPN - March 13, 2018

MANCHESTER, England -- He was once the new kid on the block in the Champions League, the Portuguese hurricane blowing through the grandest competition of them all, but now, after his Manchester United team exited the tournament with barely a whimper against Sevilla, Jose Mourinho looks like a man out of touch, on and off the pitch.

The twinkle in his eye has gone, and all we have now is negative football and misplaced attempts at suggesting a round-of-16 elimination does not really matter. After all, he has won this competition twice before and, as he was quick to remind everybody after Sevilla's 2-1 win at Old Trafford, he has also masterminded away wins for Porto and Real Madrid at this stadium to inflict Champions League misery on United.

The problem now is that he is still inflicting misery on United -- ask the supporters what they think of his approach to the game -- but should he really be doing that as the team's manager?

"There is no time to be sad," Mourinho said after Wissam Ben Yedder's two goals sent Sevilla into the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time. "This is football. It's not the end of the world.

"I sit in this chair twice in the Champions League and knocked United out of the Champions League, with Real or Porto, so I do not think it is something new for the club. I do not have regrets, I did my best, the players tried their best. We lost, that's football."

Any United supporter hearing Mourinho's comments would instantly rage at the inference that losing to Sevilla is not "the end of the world". In the real world, Mourinho is 100 percent correct, but football supporters still allow themselves to live in a fantasy world in which the game matters more than anything else for 90 minutes.

Mourinho has little time for such romance, however, and if that means selecting Marouane Fellaini rather than Paul Pogba or Juan Mata, then so be it. And if it means abandoning United's cavalier, attack-first principles to get a result, then that is what has to be done.

United supporters will put up with that approach if it brings results, as it did against Liverpool at the weekend, but their patience will evaporate quickly if it holds the team back, and that is precisely what happened against Sevilla.

Even by settling for a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Spain three weeks ago, Mourinho signalled that he is a coach who has failed to evolve with the modern game. A 0-0 draw away from home, without an away goal scored, is no longer a positive result in elite European competition because most teams will attack away from home in the return leg in the hope of gaining the upper hand.

Sevilla did that and, once Ben Yedder scored the opener late in the second half, the folly of Mourinho's first-leg game plan was exposed. The United manager attempted to retrieve the situation by throwing on Anthony Martial and Mata, but it was too little, too late.


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