Why Jose Mourinho's criticism of Alexis Sanchez is unfair
What's the story?
Manchester United suffered their first defeat in seven games at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur and almost every Man United player was to blame, but in his press conference manager Jose Mourinho sidelined new striker Alexis Sanchez for criticism, claiming that the Chilean was falling back too deep to recover the ball.
Mourinho said (via Metro):
"In the second half I try to give him a position where he could be more close to Lukaku. But he felt the need to drop too much and he was dropping too much to try to organise. He gave everything with a good effort and it’s a good feeling to me to know that he’s available with this spirit."
In case you didn't know...
Man United put in their worst performance this year against a resilient Tottenham at Wembley and lost 2-0. Thier mistakes were so evident throughout the game and it took just 11 seconds for Tottenham to break their defense with the help of Christian Eriksen. Mourinho was fuming seeing his side play abysmal football and the boss was even part of a heated argument with Paul Pogba during the first half of the game.
The heart of the matter
Mourinho changed the formation in the second half to a more attack-minded approach and paired up Romelu Lukaku with Sanchez up front. Sanchez, however, was found to be falling back too often to help with his team's defense and that did not go down too well with Mourinho who claimed that his actions were the reason why the game was played into Tottenham's hands.
The game was never in Man Utd's control except for the first 15 minutes and the defense along with Nemanja Matic was dreadful in retrieving the ball. Almost every attack reached De Gea. Then you have a player like Sanchez who cannot stay away from the action for long either in attack or in defense and not seeing much of the ball provoked him to go retrieve it himself.
He played to Mourinho's tactics for a few minutes, but there was literally no service to him and the only times he had the ball was when he defended and got the ball back himself. To add more woes, Lukaku was not able to keep hold of any long ball that was played to him and gave up possession too easily. If Lukaku held the ball up more and teamed up with Sanchez, Mourinho's criticism would have been just.
Jose Mourinho needs to first address the problems in defense and needs to train his players to be more aggressive.
Players like Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba can play the cross-field pass and the through balls to perfection, so in big games, these players need to take up more responsibility and try to supply as many passes as they can to players like Sanchez and Lukaku. If attackers like Sanchez don't receive the ball too often they get agitated and it is normal for them to try and retrieve the ball themselves.