United lack 'mad dogs' like Rashford, says Mourinho
Mourinho also allegedly called Pogba 'a virus' after Southampton draw: Reports
Jose Mourinho suggested after a third consecutive English Premier League match without victory yesterday morning (Singapore time) that his team did not have enough "mad dogs" on the field in their 2-2 away draw with Southampton.
To a neutral, it seemed that it was not rabid canines that were missing but intensity and desire at key times in the stalemate with a side who have yet to win at home this season.
Before yesterday, the Saints had netted only four times in six matches at St Mary's this season, once from the penalty spot.
But they added two more goals after only 19 minutes via Stuart Armstrong and Cedric Soares against a United side who seemed to be going through the motions.
At least until Marcus Rashford atoned for the free-kick that led to Southampton's second goal with a pair of assists to drag United back into a game that could have slipped away from them entirely.
That should have been their cue to go on and win on a ground where they have usually done well. But they failed to resume the second half in control of the match and David de Gea was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
"Doesn't matter the system we play. (Not winning) has to do with the characteristics of the players," Mourinho was quoted by AFP as saying.
"With all the respect, we don't have many mad dogs that bite the ball and press all the time. We don't have many people with that spirit.
"When the players don't understand that simplicity is genius, especially in some parts of the pitch, they keep and keep playing too complicated football and it's too difficult to have that continuity.
"Because we lost so many balls in midfield, we lost so many balls in our transition to the last third, it was difficult to have that continuity."
The United manager, did admit he had a "mad dog" in Rashford. "It's a football expression," Mourinho said of his "mad dogs" reference.
"I love dogs and they are better than many men. People who are aggressive on the ball, fight hard to recover the ball. Rashford was a mad dog until he got tired.
"In that first period, Rashford was fresh, not hurt by hard tackles in the ankles in situations that progressively put a player in difficulty. One foul here, one foul there, 75 minutes and he was done."
Former United and England striker Micheal Owen, too, singled out Rashford, calling his performance against the Saints "outstanding".
After giving away the free-kick that Cedric scored from in the 20th minute, the England striker's direct running created Romelu Lukaku's 33rd-minute goal and Ander Herrera's cheeky equaliser six minutes later.
Owen said on BT Sport: "I thought he's (Rashford) been outstanding. He made two mistakes for the free-kick for Southampton...
"But in this day and age, you have to run and run fast, and be direct and make things happen.
"Rashford, by and large, is the only player in the Manchester United team who does that.
"I thought Ashley Young had a good first half. But Rashford runs at players and it causes havoc, it changes the picture all the time. And when he does that, it's obviously another goal."
While Mourinho singled out Rashford for praise in his post-match press conference, several British media outlets have reported that he lambasted Paul Pogba in the dressing room.
Scottish newspaper the Daily Record claimed that the Portuguese called Pogba "a virus".
Quoting a "dressing room source", the daily claimed Mourinho told Pogba: "You don't play. You don't respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you."
Against Southampton, the French World Cup winner was dispossessed eight times and lost half of his 30 duels.