Jose Mourinho used Manchester United’s narrow 1-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League as a chance to stick two fingers up at the doubters.
Young Boys looked set to frustrate, and perhaps even embarrass, the Old Trafford giants on home soil on Tuesday, displaying composure, confidence and camaraderie sorely lacking in their opponents.
Until the first minute of injury time, when Marouane Fellaini collected Romelu Lukaku’s flick in the box, before holding off a defender and firing the ball into the bottom corner for the win.
“Let me send a message to my lovers and say that I played Champions League for 14 years and I qualified 14 times,” Mourinho, who slammed water bottles into the ground in celebration, said.
“And the two years where I didn’t play Champions League, I won the Europa League twice, so in 16 years, 14 times I qualify and twice I play Europa League and I won.
“Just a little curiosity for my lovers and the lovers of the stats.”
Mourinho raised eyebrows before the game by dropping Lukaku and Paul Pogba to the bench, with Alexis Sanchez missing out entirely.
“No, Sanchez is not injured, but it’s quite curious because you always speak about the ones that are not playing,” the United boss said. “Tonight, you had Marcus Rashford playing as a nine – that’s what you want, that’s what you ask for all the time and you had.
“So, don’t speak about Lukaku and you tell me Lukaku doesn’t score a goal at Old Trafford since March.
“And then you ask, ‘Why is he not playing?’ You put me in difficult situations with difficult questions, you go always, but you could be nice to me and say, ‘Jose tonight you play Marcus Rashford as a nine’ and I could go from there.
“But, no, you say, ‘You left big names outside’.”