Jose Mourinho didn’t name names, but made it clear he was disappointed with a significant portion of his players last night as Manchester United were unexpectedly eliminated from the League Cup at the hands of Bristol City – suggesting certain United stars didn’t want to be there, playing at Ashton Gate against rugged Championship opposition on a wet Wednesday night. He said after the 2-1 defeat…
“In the first-half we lacked the intensity that they had, and when I say intensity I say not just physical I say also mentally. For some of us it was just one more day in the office – probably a day that some of them they don’t even want to come to the office.”
And when considering which players that rather condemning description most applies to, it’s hard to look past right-back Matteo Darmian, especially in light of reports linking the Italian international with a return to Serie A and away from Old Trafford.
Indeed, you’d expect a full-back to make key attacking contributions during a game in which United should dominate much of the ball against lesser opposition, but Darmian didn’t complete one dribble, create one chance or lay on one accurate cross before being subbed off in the 94th minute. In fact, he made less passes than goalkeeper Sergio Romero, just 25, with an overall accuracy of just 76%.
Defensively too, the 28-year-old didn’t fare much better. He made more fouls than interceptions or blocks, won only a single aerial duel, completed just two tackles and made three clearances. Overall, it was an incredibly passive display from the 36-cap defender and if there were any question marks over whether United could afford to let him go mid-season, last night most probably answered them for Mourinho.