Mourinho’s Tactics: Strictly defense?
Jose Mourinho has often been at the receiving end of criticisms concerning his ‘defensive’ tactics. Following about three weeks of negative football, which included five matches, with one impressive win over Swansea in the Carabao cup, unimpressive wins over Benfica and Tottenham, a stalemate with Liverpool and a loss to Huddersfield, Mourinho’s tactics have come under scrutiny once more.
The victory against Tottenham over the weekend is the latest show of Mourinho’s expertise in snatch and grab victories and fans have come out to blast the Portuguese. But is Mourinho really just defending?
Mourunho’s Tactics: What Pundits and Coaches have said
In late September, Pep Guardiola aimed a dig at Manchester United, saying: ‘So they are players with the quality to play, I think they want to play. I don’t see all the time long balls. I see for example Chelsea, Tottenham, they want to play. They like to play, to build up.
‘When [Manchester] United play long balls up to [Marouane] Fellaini and [Paul] Pogba, after they have the quality to play.’
Also, after Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp came out to say: ‘The performance was worth three points. We were the better side,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘I think Man United came here for the point and they got it. We wanted three points and didn’t get it.
‘I’m sure if we played like this, you could not do this at Liverpool. Obviously for Man United it is OK. It’s quite difficult when a top-class team like Man United has that defensive approach. You’re not going to get 20 chances.
‘But we had enough, a big one in the first half, and a penalty I feel. We were unlucky.’
Pundit, Charlie Nicholas recently said that Cristiano Ronaldo hated playing under Mourinho because of his defensive tactics.
Mourinho’s Tactics: What is Mourinho Actually doing?
The truth is Mourinho has not been totally defensive. Manchester United are actually the second highest scoring side in the EPL, with 23 goals in ten matches. That is an average of 2.3 goals per match. In fact, United have scored four (4) goals in six matches this season in all competitions. A totally defensive side cannot attain that.
Simply put, Mourinho is winning impressively against weaker sides, but playing conservatively against tougher sides. Against Liverpool and Tottenham, Mourinho was aware of the attacking threat of their opponents, hence he opted to play defensively.
Earlier in the season, after a couple of impressive victories, Mourinho stated his intentions for the season, saying:
“We try to play the best we can,” Mourinho said. “We know that if you look in a pragmatic way, you see the last winners of the Premier League [Chelsea], they did not play attacking football.
“They played defensive football and counter-attack football. So according to the results, that is the way to win the Premier League.
“We try to play according to the qualities of our players. We try to play positive, we try to play good, but we try to win. If one day to win we have to play defensive football, we have to do it.”
From his statement, it is clear that all he wants to do is to be realistic, and win.
Mourinho is attacking against weaker sides, and defending against tougher sides. Although Mourinho’s United cannot always attack like a Guardiola or Klopp’s side would, but he is getting the job done.
Mourinho’s tactics is not just defending!
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