Jose Mourinho said he will be unable to work miracles to restore Manchester United’s confidence after they fell to a second successive defeat with a 1-0 loss to Feyenoord on Thursday night.
A 79th-minute Tonny Vilhena goal ensured United began their Europa League campaign with defeat in Rotterdam to set a club record of four away defeats running in European competition.
While Mourinho was correct to complain that Nicolai Jorgensen was offside in the buildup to the goal, the listless manner of the reverse is again the overriding concern. After also being beaten by Manchester City, Mourinho takes United to Watford for Sunday’s early game knowing he must avoid a third defeat in a row.
‘When you lose matches, there are no miracles in terms of the players’ soul,’ he said. ‘You win matches, people are happy and full of confidence. You lose matches and people are sad and feel it. But of course I’m here not to let them be in a negative mood or in a negative period because we lost two matches – two matches where we didn’t play well for 90 minutes but two matches where we deserve a better result.
‘First of all I have players who are not here, I have players that didn’t play here for 90 minutes, so it’s not a problem of accumulation. I know we play midday on Sunday and in this moment it’s 9pm on Thursday but we are professionals. Let’s not make an excuse for Sunday because we have to play this game. The players are professional, they have to be fit and they are, and they have to be mentally strong to play again.’
For this opening Group A fixture eight changes were made. Only David de Gea, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly were retained as Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Marcus Rashford, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marcos Rojo all made a first start under Mourinho.