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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho's best excuses of the 2018/19 season so far

The Portuguese was at his most defensive following the derby defeat to Manchester City at the weekend

“The way people that don’t understand football is analyse football with stats. I don’t go for stats.” So said Jose Mourinho after he witnessed his side torn apart by Manchester City at the weekend.

So, Jose, we won't analyse with stats, on this occasion at least.

But instead we will take a look at the Manchester United manager's excuses, which are piling up this season, as his team sit eighth in the Premier League table with a negative goal difference after 12 matches.

Back in the days when United were the best team in the country, manager Alex Ferguson used to deflect any criticism of his players on to the referee, or anything else that would protect them. It used to work, too .

Mourinho has taken a different approach at Old Trafford, often picking out individuals (notably Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial) for criticism, but has progressively grown more protective of his squad, aside from claiming some players care more than others. Instead the beleaguered manager has concentrated on deflecting blame on anything else, although he has yet to trot out "the dog ate my homework" excuse, as United have lurched from embarrassing defeat (Brighton & Hove Albion) to humiliating cup loss (Derby County).

His mood darkened during the summer trip to the United States when he regularly criticised the club's hierarchy for failing to land any new signings, and described the pre-season preparations as "strange". In reference to the lack of transfers, he said: "One thing is what I want and another thing is what is going to happen." He also said he wouldn't pay to watch any of United's matches on tour.

Now, with winter upon us and the bad results piling up, here's the pick of Mourinho's reasons for defeat so far this season:

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Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 Manchester United, August 19

"We had one last ball and he [referee Kevin Friend] stopped the game when the ball was in the air."

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Manchester United 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur, August 27

"By the strategic and tactical point of view, we didn’t lose ... One thing is to lose at home and deservedly, another thing is to lose undeservedly, being the best team, having a fantastic attitude and being really, really unlucky.”

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Manchester United 1-1 Wolves, September 22

"I could say we were tired after playing in the Champions League on an awful pitch, the body suffers a different impact than a match on natural grass, not coming home after the match."

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Derby County players celebrate beating Manchester United. Action Images via Reuters
Derby County players celebrate beating Manchester United. Action Images via Reuters

Manchester United 2-2 Derby County, September 25

"We knew that if we go past the seventh we knew we were going to be in trouble with Jones, with Eric, with Lee - not good penalty takers, but they took it all well and we missed one."

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West Ham 3-1 Manchester United, September 29

"The goal was offside and, last Tuesday with the VAR, it would not have been a goal.

"Then we scored to make it 2-1, and there was a referee’s mistake - it was a foul on Marcus Rashford. Zabaleta didn't have an attempt to play the ball, he just pulled the player from behind."

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Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United, October 20

"I hope every referee does the same as Mike Dean, to give six minutes. Normally when I'm losing I never have five or six or seven minutes."

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Paulo Dybala, right, is congratulated by Cristiano Ronaldo after giving Juventus the lead. Reuters
Paulo Dybala, right, is congratulated by Cristiano Ronaldo after giving Juventus the lead. Reuters

Manchester United 0-1 Juventus, October 23

"They had Higuain, Mandzukic, Dybala, they want more. They want Ronaldo. They had Barzagli, Chiellini, Rugani, they are not happy, they want more, they want Bonucci. And they go for the best players in the world."

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Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United, November 11

“It was a week where Manchester City played at home three matches, and we play three matches away.

"A week where they enjoy 6-0, 6-1 victories, relaxed, no pressure, no mental effort, everything nice and easy, and we played two matches away, difficult ones, where the second one [against Juventus] was like a final for us against one of the best teams in Europe, a game that demanded from us everything we had to give, not just physically but also mentally."

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Read more:

Ranked: Jose Mourinho's Man Utd signings as transfer saga clouds his Old Trafford future

Manchester United and Jose Mourinho's lost identity highlighted by playing catch up so much

The stats don't lie, Jose: Manchester City are light years ahead of United

Jose Mourinho defends Juve taunts after Manchester United's 'fantastic victory' in Turin