Jose Mourinho still has backing of Manchester United's hierarchy as club soldier on

Simon Peach 28/08/2018
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Jose Mourinho still retains the support of the Manchester United hierarchy despite a chastening start to the season that Paul Pogba is confident will not see them swept away.

After a summer of discontent, United have lost two of their first three matches of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 1992-93.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men went on to win the title that season, but there are few signs that under-fire Mourinho can lead the team to league glory this term.

As if the woeful 3-2 loss at Brighton was not enough, the Portuguese tasted the heaviest home defeat of his managerial career as Tottenham ran out 3-0 victors at Old Trafford on Monday.

Odds on Mourinho leaving have tumbled but Press Association Sport understands that United are continuing to back their manager amid the growing storm of scrutiny.

The former Chelsea boss certainly has work to do before Sunday’s trip to Burnley given the way his side were ruthlessly carved open by Spurs as a bright start became a distant memory.

“Even we don’t understand what happened,” United midfielder Pogba said. “We started the game really well, we conceded two goals in the second half.

“The first goal was a real blow, we didn’t understand why, because we had the game in hand. One goal, two…we kept pushing, we had chances, and we conceded the third.

“The fans kept pushing us, they were really behind us. We feel really sorry for them, very disappointed, we wanted to do better.

“I think it was an undeserved defeat for us, in our desire, in everything we put into it. But football can be cruel. We just have to bounce back.”

Pogba Spurs

United desperately need to return to winning ways at Turf Moor to ease the pressure heading into the international break.

Last season’s runners-up already find themselves six points off the summit, but Pogba is keeping calm and focused amid the storm.

“It won’t be easy, but it’s just the start of the season,” he said. “I prefer to start badly and end well than start well and finish badly.

“It’s bizarre. (Against Tottenham) we were determined, we started well, and in the end we lost 3-0. It’s a shock.”

Pogba’s commitment to the United cause is a welcome boost in an uncomfortable period when his happiness is one of a variety of matters hanging over the club.

Some disgruntled fans have intended to fly a plane over the ground against Burnley calling for the exit of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, while Mourinho is favourite to become the first top-flight manager to leave his post.

The United boss has struck an unhappy figure since returning for pre-season, venting his spleen on matters varying from player fitness to professionalism and the need for reinforcements, particularly in defence.

The pressure appears to be making its impact on Mourinho, who stormed out of his post-match press conference on Monday demanding respect.

But the United boss has not lost the board or fans just yet, with the 55-year-old showing his appreciation to the latter by applauding the Stretford End for several minutes after the Spurs game.

Some around the club are understood to have initially wondered whether it was a farewell, but Mourinho explained it was merely an expression of gratitude.

“I went inside the pitch because normally I am the first person to leave the pitch when my team wins,” Mourinho told MUTV.

“But my team lost and the players deserved that they are in the middle of the pitch with me, so I went in the middle of the pitch for my players but then the fans had such an amazing reaction to the boys.

“I had to thank them on behalf of everyone.”

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Luke Shaw says Man United's spirit and talent will help them recover from Tottenham defeat

Simon Peach 28/08/2018
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Luke Shaw believes Manchester United‘s dressing room boasts the spirit, determination and talent to bounce back from Monday’s embarrassing home humbling by Tottenham.

After an uncomfortable week of prodding and probing in the wake of the shock defeat at Brighton, a packed Old Trafford expected a response from Jose Mourinho‘s side.

Instead, United’s inability to capitalise on a bright start saw Spurs exploit their defensive frailties in a whirlwind second half.

Harry Kane’s header was complemented by a Lucas Moura brace in a 3-0 defeat that represents the biggest home defeat of Mourinho’s entire managerial career.

It ratchets up the pressure on the United boss and his team ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley, where left-back Shaw knows a response is needed.

“You always see a lot of things in the media that go on about what our dressing room is like,” the 23-year-old said.

Moura

“But, look, we have a really good spirit, a really good group of lads and a group that want to work, want to achieve big things here.

“We have a really good group and yeah of course we’ll reflect on our day off (on Tuesday) and we’ll come back in on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a really good group, a good group of hard workers and amazing talents everywhere you look on the field.

“We’ve just got to start taking our chances and I am sure we will start winning more games.”

Shaw believes it should have been “game over” by half-time as United impressed against a frustrated Spurs side.

But, ultimately, defensive and mental brittleness saw Mourinho’s men collapse, with just 133 seconds between the visitors’ first and second goals.

“The first corner they had comes the goal,” Shaw told MUTV.

“Even then, we should have been relaxed, I think. ‘Look, it’s only one goal, we’ve still got a lot of time’ and then comes maybe another mistake.

“Another silly, stupid goal. We were so on top and it’s just disappointing, really disappointing.

“Everyone in the dressing room is really sad, especially after the first half we had and especially a big thank you to the fans for the way they supported us, even when we were down 3-0, was amazing.

“At the final whistle as well, the way they were clapping the team was I think really respectful and really nice for us as players to receive after a disappointing result.

“And obviously to the fans that came out tonight, we’re sorry, we’ll be better next week.

“We’ll improve, we’ll keep working hard. It’s early in the season so we’ve got a lot of games to come and a lot of positive things from tonight.

“But we’ve got to get points and tonight’s result wasn’t good enough.

“Like I said, I am sorry for the fans, not just the ones here but the ones at home that have been watching and supporting us.

“It wasn’t good tonight and we’ll look at that over the next week and bounce back against Burnley.”

Shaw will surely get another chance to start this weekend after another bright United display, while an England recall when Gareth Southgate names his first squad since the World Cup on Thursday would be deserved.

“Tonight, personally for me, I don’t really care about my performance,” Shaw said. “I care more about the result and as a team.

“We need to pick up points, especially with two losses now. We need to look next week to win and win in a good way.

“I think we played really well in the first half and if we keep playing like that, and we take our chances, then we have got to win games.”

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Paul Pogba in-focus as floundering Manchester United slump to heavy home defeat to Spurs

Carl Markham 28/08/2018
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Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho after Spurs

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has found himself under scrutiny early in the season.

Press Association Sport looks at how the France World Cup winner fared in the 3-0 defeat at home to Tottenham.

Passing

One raking, left-footed crossfield effort straight to the feet of Luke Shaw was the highlight of the first half but he also played one free-kick 20 yards square straight to Lucas Moura 10 yards inside the United half. He did not do enough to open up Tottenham when United were dominating possession.

Influence

He was a peripheral figure for the opening 20 minutes but gradually found a way into the game and started to gain control in midfield. However, when the game began to get away from the hosts the Frenchman had no response.

Threat

He forced Hugo Lloris into the first save of the match with a low, 20-yard effort and clipped another long-range effort wide early in the second half. He got forward more in the second half but could not carve out a decent chance.

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