Jose Mourinho admits Manchester United are not getting the best out of Alexis Sanchez but has hit back at criticism of the Chile forward.
Sanchez has disappointed since becoming the highest-paid player in the Premier League, joining from Arsenal in January on a deal worth up to £600,000 a week.
Mourinho blamed the problem on Sanchez moving in mid-season, as the 29-year-old prepares to face Liverpool for the first time as a United player on Saturday lunchtime.
Asked if United are getting the best out of Sanchez, Mourinho said: ‘No. What is wrong is that he came at the worst moment of the season, in the winter market.
‘That’s why I don’t like the winter market very much, but this was a chance we didn’t want to lose. Next season will be better for him, but he is learning how to play with us and we are learning how to get the best out of him.
‘He’s fine. He’s happy that the team are getting results. Lately he was unhappy when we lost matches with him, but he’s a guy with great maturity and attitude.
‘He’s not afraid to take responsibilities. When he feels he’s not as dangerous as he likes to be, he drops back and tries things. When he makes mistakes, he tries to compensate with fantastic spirit to try to win back the ball.’
Sanchez has scored just once in eight games since moving to Old Trafford, and that was a follow-up after he had a penalty saved against Huddersfield last month.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher criticised him for giving the ball away 34 times in Monday’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace, accusing Sanchez and Paul Pogba of playing like ‘kids in a schoolyard’. Former United defender Gary Neville also targeted the two United stars, adding that he has ‘never seen a Jose Mourinho team as inefficient as this’.
The Old Trafford boss responded to what he described as ‘the oracles’, and made a veiled reference to Neville’s failed four-month spell as manager of Valencia two years ago.
‘Some of the guys with an opinion couldn’t resolve their own problems when they were managers,’ said Mourinho. ‘They are giving opinions like they have solutions for everything, but it’s not like that.’
Liverpool can oust United from second place in the Premier League table if they win at the home of their old rivals.