I expect more from my fringe players: Mourinho
United boss says performance of out-of-favour stars did not surprise him
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has demanded more from his fringe players after he was forced to bring on regular starters in an attempt to stage a late rally in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Valencia yesterday morning (Singapore time).
United went into the final Group H match having already qualified for the last 16 of the competition, a luxury that allowed Mourinho to rotate his squad, but the manager found little comfort in a performance that lacked energy and drive.
Valencia were comfortable for most of the match, scoring via a Carlos Soler drive from inside the box on 17 minutes and a Phil Jones own goal two minutes after half-time, but United staged a mini-rally after pulling one back through substitute Marcus Rashford's 87th-minute header.
He came on for Fred, while Jesse Lingard replaced Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young took over from Marcos Rojo as United's fringe players failed to perform.
"I didn't learn anything from this game - at all. Nothing that happened surprised me at all," Reuters quoted Mourinho as saying.
"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.
"It was a good match to play, without any kind of pressure, in a competition that everyone likes to play in.
"And in the end, my team improved really when I made changes I didn't want to make, which is frustrating because I didn't want to play the three players that I played in the second half."
Pogba lasted the full 90 minutes but failed to make his case to start against Liverpool on Sunday after being left out of United's starting XI in their last two matches before yesterday.
Former Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy said his performance against Valencia was "concerning", adding that Pogba should not start against the Reds.
He told Sky Sports: "Mourinho isn't getting the best out of Pogba, that's clear.
"There is a lack of interest from Pogba. His performance in Valencia was concerning.
"I'm not sure if he is as good as a lot of people make out...
"If you're Mourinho, after Pogba's performance today, it will be very difficult to say he has to play. He has to leave him out again."
However, fellow former Reds striker Michael Owen believes Pogba's struggles are down to Mourinho.
He said on BT Sport: "I'm of the opinion that he is totally world class playing in a certain team in a certain way.
"I get very frustrated watching him because I know he's better than what we see week in, week out.
"I think the manager has to take some of the blame - the system, the way he plays. I remember when he first signed, they were trying all kinds of midfielders in and around him trying to get the best out of him.
"I think he makes so many bad decisions in games, which is frustrating because… if he was playing under a (Pep) Guardiola or a (Juergen) Klopp or someone like that, I think we'd be looking at certainly one of the best few players in the world."