A two-time victor of this competition, Mourinho and his tactical nous had been touted as the primary reason to consider United genuine European contenders this time around. “We had a big game, as you know, against Liverpool and we came with high confidence to play this game, but Sevilla were better than us, so they deserved it”.
Progress may be being made by Mourinho but it is mid-March and his team are out of the race for the Premier League title, where they trail Manchester City by 16 points, and of Europe.
The 24-year-old midfielder – who surprisingly started the goalless first leg on the bench in Spain – was injured on the eve of the Liverpool clash and was absent from the section of training open to the media on Monday.
The first leg ended 0-0 – a match in which United appeared docile but escaped with a draw courtesy of some fantastic saves from David De Gea.
“After 10 to 15 minutes, Sevilla has a good team and can hide the ball in midfield”. Now, I have only one name in my mind.
Any United supporter hearing Mourinho’s comments would instantly rage at the inference that losing to Sevilla is not “the end of the world”. Somehow Fellaini avoided a yellow card but he gave way to Pogba in the 60th minute.
Matic, meanwhile, did his typically solid job of protecting the back four for most of the match but provided absolutely nothing going forward.
Manchester United have included Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in their preliminary squad to face Sevilla on Tuesday night.
Clutching desperately at the thinnest of straws, Mourinho suggested United had no time for self-recrimination because they had an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Brighton coming up at the weekend.
That midfield setup also afforded Mourinho the rare opportunity of playing Marcus Rashford on the left side of Manchester United’s attack, something the Portuguese has found hard to do since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez.
Ben Yedder now has eight goals in seven Champions League appearances, trailing only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 12, for most in the competition. “The first goal would always change the direction of the game”.
Having trailed 2-1 from the first leg in the Ukraine, Roma looked bereft of ideas for much of the contest at the Stadio Olimpico before Dzeko broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute.
Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back but it was too little too late as Mourinho suffered the worst result of his reign in charge of club.
Unsurprisingly Mourinho did not share the critics’ view that United had been poor. Was that acceptable for a club of United’s stature? It is Sevilla. I know it is very hard to go through.
Sevilla ensured LaLiga will have at least two teams in the last eight, a number that could rise to three depending on the outcome of the match in Barcelona.