Jose Mourinho does not believe Tottenham’s 6-1 demolition of Manchester United will “destroy” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad.
The 10-man Red Devils were utterly humiliated by Spurs in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford.
Despite going behind to a second-minute Bruno Fernandes penalty, Spurs quickly turned the match on its head through Tanguy Ndombele and Son Heung-min before Anthony Martial was sent off for raising a hand to the throat of Eric Lamela.
A further goal from Son, two from Harry Kane and one from Serge Aurier completed the rout as United suffered their joint-heaviest Premier League defeat at home, having lost 6-1 to Manchester City back in 2011.
United’s abject defending in the first three games of this Premier League season has seen them concede 11 goals. The only other time they let in at least 10 over the same period at the start of a season was in 1930-31, when they were relegated.
The humbling nature of the defeat will doubtless cast further doubt over Solskjaer’s credentials as the manager to restore United to the summit of English football, but Mourinho, the man he replaced in the dugout in 2018, insists he deserves credit for an obvious overall improvement in the team’s fortunes.
“I have sympathy for Ole because of the result,” he told reporters. “I don’t remember that I lost by six but I lost by five, I lost by four. I know how we hurt.
“I know it’s very, very important that the winning manager behaves in a way where he shows sympathy. Of course, I want to win, and of course, I want to win by seven, not by six. Don’t get me wrong.
“But it’s sympathy in our behaviour. Today was him, tomorrow is me. Of course, I feel sympathy for him. I can imagine that tonight he’s not going to sleep very, very well. But this is the hard life of us.
“But when I look to his team, there was an evolution. It’s not like he arrives here and the team doesn’t improve. The team is improving, they have good players, he bought lots of young players. Very good players. If it’s true that [Edinson] Cavani is coming, Cavani is one of the top strikers in the world. Manchester United is Manchester United. It’s not a defeat that is going to destroy them. I can imagine they will react like Manchester United always react.
“So, I feel sympathy for the result, but apart from that no sympathy because he has an incredible job and it feels like the players like him, they are with him. They are going to react for sure.”
Solskjaer was incensed by Lamela’s behaviour, the Spurs winger having flung an arm at Martial and then dropped to the ground under minimal contact as the Frenchman retaliated.
Mourinho, though, suggested United were fortunate not to see further red cards, with Paul Pogba having put in one or two heavy challenges and Luke Shaw having scythed down Lucas Moura as he ran towards David de Gea’s penalty area.
“I didn’t watch [Lamela’s reaction],” he said. “For sure, for sure, for sure, Manchester United could have ended the match with eight players. I can say because some of the reactions were not far from me and easy to see. But I agree with [referee] Anthony Taylor for not showing more red cards to them because it would be a disastrous situation for them.
“So, for example, that Luke Shaw red card… okay, that’s a bit… the situation between Lamela, Pogba and Martial, I don’t know. I don’t know. What I know is that before that we were winning, we were dominating, we were ultra-confident. And that’s the only thing that made the game easier. But the game was in our hands.”