LONDON, Sept 10 — Jose Mourinho claimed his confidence in his Manchester United side remains intact despite seeing Stoke City end their perfect start to the Premier League season with a 2-2 draw.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored twice for the Potters, becoming the first player to score against United in four games this season and making Stoke the first side to deny them maximum points.
Mourinho saw poor defending for both of the Cameroon international’s goals cost his side a fourth successive victory at the start of the season, but he declared himself pleased with United’s position on top of the table, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.
“It’s easy to feel it that some of the players were not with the sharpness and intensity and with the decision-making,” he said.
“I know after national teams there are no miracles or injuries or fatigue or lack of concentration and we had a little bit of everything.
“So I’m not disappointed with the players, I’m not critical with it, it’s just a natural consequence.
“Four matches, 10 points, top of the league, we are okay. We know that with the teams in the league is a difficult match and every point is a point you have to fight hard for so I’m exactly the same mentality and mood that I had after three matches and nine points, 10-0 in goals.
“A draw was a fair result. One team wanted to win, another team wanted to draw, but the team that wanted to draw fought hard for that.
“They defended a lot and it’s becoming quite trendy in the Premier League, this way of defending.
“But they did well and the team were physically very strong and they probably deserved the point.
“We tried to win in the last 20 minutes, that was clear, but we couldn’t and we can say we could score more goals and win, yes, but we could also not concede that second goal, which was really a bad goal to concede.
“But it’s a point and probably Stoke City deserved the point.”
Mourinho refused to criticise Phil Jones for giving Choupo-Moting a free header for Stoke’s equaliser, and played down a spat with opposite number Mark Hughes.
Former United striker Hughes pushed Mourinho during the game when he entered the Stoke technical area and Mourinho refused to shake his opposite number’s hand at the final whistle.
“I prefer not to answer question about handshakes,” Mourinho told the BBC. “It’s a bad question. It makes it look like it’s my fault but that’s not right.”
“I pushed him because he was in my technical area,” Hughes admitted. “Maybe that’s why he didn’t want to shake my hand.
“Maybe it’s because it could be viewed as a negative result for him.
“Coming to Stoke City when everybody expected them to beat us is a negative.
“Sometimes managers of the top-six clubs don’t take negative results too kindly and maybe he reacted the wrong way.
“The performance today was better than the performance against Arsenal when we won and I think that tells you how well we played and how Manchester United will test teams.
“I think they were excellent and we needed to step up to the challenge.” — AFP