WHILE MANCHESTER UNITED put one foot in the Europa League last 16, manager Jose Mourinho was far from happy, criticising his players for being too relaxed against Saint-Etienne.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first hat-trick for the club as United took a commanding 3-0 lead over the French side in Thursday’s round-of-32 fixture at Old Trafford.
After breaking the deadlock via a deflected free-kick 15 minutes in, Ibrahimovic netted a second-half double to see off a spirited Saint-Etienne, who consistently posed an attacking threat.
Mourinho, however, slammed his team for their lack of concentration leading up to kick-off and during the first 45 minutes.
“Lack of concentration. I had the feeling immediately in the dressing room, too noisy, too funny, too relaxed,” Mourinho lamented.
My assistants had the feeling in the warm-up, some of the guys were not focused on getting the right adrenaline in their bodies.
“The game started and the first thing we did was a backpass to the striker.
The first-half was hard. Even myself on the touchline, it was difficult to communicate. Second half different story.”
Mourinho offered a more detailed critique of his side to RMC, saying: ”We were not playing well [first half], we lost the ball in dangerous areas and gave Saint-Etienne the chance to counter-attack. We were winning but probably didn’t deserve it.
We made mistakes but we coped well with them, so a little bit of credit is needed, too. The second half was different, we had our chances, hit the post, scored the goals so it was good. But in the first half, Saint-Etienne were better.
“It’s not done. We have everything in our hands. We know, if we score a goal, Saint-Etienne have to score four or five. But I don’t go there to have fun, with the conviction that it’s done. In football, it’s only done when it’s done.”
Mourinho will be forced into one change for next week’s return leg in France as midfielder Ander Herrera serves a ban for an accumulation of yellow cards.
“It’s a good rest for Herrera [next week] but I am always respectful. I don’t want my team to be punished so I will go with a strong team,” the Portuguese boss said.
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