Jose Mourinho was typically caustic following the culmination of Manchester United’s Champions League group campaign, which ended with an underwhelming defeat away against Valencia.
While repeatedly publicly lambasting his players, Mourinho has complained several times about his side’s lack of vim and vigour over the past month or two.
Indeed, there was a familiar theme to the United manager’s post-match debrief having watched his side (containing the likes of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku) get largely outclassed by the team currently sitting 15th in La Liga.
Speaking to the press after the match, Mourinho griped:
I didn’t learn anything from this game – at all. Nothing that happened surprised me. I expect more from my players, especially players that, week in, week out, they ask why they don’t play, why they don’t start.
He then made certain to praise the only person he believed made any kind of difference on the night:
In the second half I was pretty sure that after speaking at half-time things could be different but we started with an own goal that gave Valencia a better position to control the game.
I made the two changes later that I didn’t want to make and the team improved immediately.
We started playing faster, arriving with link play in more dangerous positions, and we probably should get to 2-2 because we had a couple of good chances to equalise. But we started the first half playing too comfortable and not with enough intensity.
Mourinho was then asked about the prospect of facing an in-form Liverpool this coming weekend – a perfectly pertinent question seeing as his own side are struggling to maintain any kind of momentum at the moment:
This is not about Liverpool [on Sunday] today, this is about Champions League. I don’t know why you bring it up. We go to every match with the intention to win, sometimes you do sometimes you don’t but the intention is always the same.
Tonight it is job done in a difficult group, I don’t think we were brilliant in this group phase, but with the problems we had and the injuries we had we manged to come here already qualified.
The problem, as far as we can see, is that this United team is quickly becoming a collective embodiment of Mourinho’s surly, scowling demeanour.
The twinkling ember in Jose’s eye has long since been extinguished. There’s no mischief anymore, just cantankerous angst and egotistical self-pity.
Something fundamental has changed in him over the past few years, and not remotely for the better.