Jose Mourinho stuck up for under-fire Ed Woodward after Manchester United made a timely return to winning ways at Burnley.
Tottenham inflicted the heaviest home defeat of the Portuguese’s managerial career at the start of the week, compounding the shock loss at Brighton.
Mourinho’s men rallied impressively at Turf Moor on Sunday, when Romelu Lukaku’s first half brace secured a win far more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.
The United manager clambered over the advertising hoardings at full time and gave his jacket to one of the fans that had chanted his name throughout, sticking with their team as they did on Monday.
“I think we start winning this match because of Old Trafford after Spurs,” Mourinho said.
“We lose at home, if the fans react bad, the team loses confidence, the week is not a good week, the team feels pressure and the next match is even more difficult.
“We lost at home, the fans were amazing to the team, the team understood that the direction was good, the result was bad.
“The week was not a sad week. It was a very good week of work and we started the week as you saw.
“Then the fans, of course, were together with the team, especially in the way the team was playing and I feel a bit sorry that we didn’t score a couple of goals in front of them because that would be magic for them.”
Victory provided welcome relief as a difficult start to the campaign that had seen pressure mount on players and staff.
Executive vice-chairman Woodward has been the focus of many supporters’ ire and a fan-funded plane flew over Turf Moor describing him as ‘a specialist in failure’.
“You know, in the match I am not looking to the sky – unless I am asking something for the guy to give me help,” Mourinho said of the banner.
“I didn’t see planes but Ed Woodward won this afternoon. He won 2-0.”
— Sport360° (@Sport360) September 2, 2018
It would have been 3-0 had Joe Hart not have saved Paul Pogba’s penalty shortly before Marcus Rashford was sent off for putting his head into Phil Bardsley’s after reacting to a kick.
“I don’t know, I didn’t watch,” Mourinho said.
“(Referee Jonathan) Moss had a good game, a good performance, really. I think the same as the two assistants and in that action the only thing I can say is that probably the experience of Bardsley, with 20 years of football, against the impulse and naivety of a guy that is on top football for about three years but is still a young kid.
“Harsh? I don’t know – could get a yellow card for both and keep going.”
Rashford apologised for his sending off via social media shortly after the game. “Emotions got the better of me, I shouldn’t of reacted like that,” the forward said. “Sorry to everyone at the club and all the fans.”
Burnley were unable to capitalise on that man advantage in the closing stages of a match that Sean Dyche’s men had looked leggy in after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos.
“It’s still physically a task,” he said. “This two week period now gives us a chance to rest and work, but certainly refresh ourselves for the challenge which is the Premier League.”
Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham side should have beaten Watford if they are to be considered contenders for the Premier League title and says their 2-1 loss was a “wake-up call”.
Spurs made a real early-season statement with a 3-0 demolition of Manchester United on Monday night to make it three wins from three, but they could not follow it up as the Hornets deservedly beat them at Vicarage Road.
The visitors went in front early in the second half when Abdoulaye Doucoure scored an own goal, but headers from Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart in the space of seven minutes turned it around for the hosts, who have won their first four league games of a season for the first time since 1988.
Pochettino had warned his side there was a bump in the road coming if they believed their own hype and his words came true as they defended poorly from set-pieces and barely caused any threat of their own.
“It is so painful to concede two goals like this, it is so painful because the first half looked like a friendly game,” Pochettino said.
“I am very disappointed, very disappointed because if you want to be a contender…it is so difficult to understand because I thought we controlled the game in the first 45 minutes.
“We conceded two goals that if you want to be a contender you cannot concede.
“It is the beginning and it is a very good wake-up call for everyone and to listen more because people talk about the perception and not the reality.
“This is good to compare, some people talk about perceptions but the reality was on the pitch.
“The reality is if you want to be a contender today we should win and win easy because everything was ready to win the game. That is very painful, but I am not upset.
“We need to show more respect to this competition, we need to compete much, much better.
“It is difficult for me to understand because for four years we were a contender.
“You need to show respect because to compete to win it is not easy, the Premier League is so, so tough.
“That is why after the third game because we beat Manchester United and the circumstances that we beat them, we need to be more cautious.
“And I think that is good today to feel the pain it will help us for the future to be better.
“I was very, very disappointed and my message is you need to go there like a lion and try to score in every single action.”
Manchester United brought a timely end to their poor run as Romelu Lukaku’s brace at Burnley helped alleviate the pressure on Jose Mourinho and kick-start their campaign.
Old Trafford has found itself in the eye of a storm after a shock defeat at Brighton was compounded by the heaviest home defeat of the Portuguese’s managerial career against Tottenham on Monday.
But there was no sign of a hangover on Sunday as United rallied impressively, with Lukaku netting twice in the first half to set Mourinho’s men on course for a deserved 2-0 win at Turf Moor.
Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba’s penalty to prevent matters getting worse for Sean Dyche’s men on an afternoon when substitute Marcus Rashford’s red card was the only real negative for the visitors.
Neither event could take the edge off a positive afternoon for United, whose travelling fans chanted Mourinho’s name from the outset and celebrated a much-needed win before the international break.
The fan-funded plane that flew overhead calling executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward “a specialist in failure” was a nod to the fact all is not well at United, but this was a much-needed show of strength and unity on the field.
An eventful afternoon at Turf Moor ends in a deserved win for Mourinho's men 😃— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 2 September 2018
Match report 👇
Burnley, looking lethargic after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos, were second best in a first half that was 27 minutes old when Lukaku headed home a clipped Alexis Sanchez cross.
The Belgium international fired home from close range just before the break, with Hart preventing United from extending their lead by denying Pogba from the spot.
Rashford’s sending-off for reacting to Phil Bardsley’s kick out by pushing his head into that of the Burnley defender led to an open ending, but United held firm to secure the three points.
Mourinho’s men started brightly and Jesse Lingard had three chances inside the opening 10 minutes, while Hart was called into action to keep out a low Luke Shaw drive.
United soon tapered off but they were remaining resolute at the back and patient in possession, with intelligent play bringing a 27th-minute opener.
Sanchez collected a pass from Shaw after good build-up and clipped a lovely cross to the far post, where Lukaku capitalised on poor defending to power a header past Hart.
United looked to press home their advantage on the counter and would have doubled their advantage had Hart not spread himself well to prevent Lukaku turning home a Sanchez through-ball.
But the 25-year-old would find the net again before the break.
Shaw burst through and squared for Lukaku, who played back to Lingard to get away a shot that took two deflections. The ball fell kindly and the striker buried the loose ball from close range.
Burnley were struggling to lay a glove on the visitors and had work to do at the back.
Bardsley denied Sanchez at the other end and Shaw stung the palms of Hart, who prevented the visitors going three ahead in the 69th minute.
Aaron Lennon brought down substitute Rashford in the box and Pogba stepped up for the resulting spot-kick, only for Hart to save low to his right after a delayed run-up.
The stop took the noise up several notches inside Turf Moor, as did Rashford’s red card.
Bardsley appeared to kick out at Rashford after a challenge and the United forward reacted by putting his head into the Burnley defender’s.
The red card brought a frantic conclusion, with Sam Vokes going close before Lukaku wasted a glorious chance after rounding Hart only to fail under Ben Mee’s pressure – who then escaped sanction after handling the ball when Lukaku outmuscled the Manchester City graduate.
Vokes was denied by David De Gea and Matej Vydra missed the target as Burnley continued to push for the goal that would not materialise.
Mourinho went to thank the raucous travelling fans at full-time as they chanted his name.