Jose Mourinho claimed he was still the best manager in the Premier League after his team were humbled by Tottenham at Old Trafford.
Despite suffering the worst home defeat of his whole career and admitting afterwards that he doesn’t know what his team’s best defensive line up is, the United manager made the peculiar claim that his team had played well.
And at the end of a heated post-match press conference, Mourinho turned on his critics by holding up three fingers to represent the number of Premier League titles he once won with Chelsea.
Mourinho said: ‘Do you know what was the result? 3-0. But what this [three fingers] also means?
‘It also means three Premier Leagues and I won more alone than the other 19 managers together.
‘Me three, them two. So respect, respect, respect.’
What Mourinho’s show of braggadocio will mean to United supporters fed up of sub-standard performances under his management is open to debate.
But the United manager also issued a call to arms to the Stretford End after making his way over to the home fans to applaud them at the end.
‘Our fans don’t read papers, all our fans don’t watch television,’ he said.
‘All our fans are more intelligent than that. They answered in an absolutely amazing way.
‘I don’t think it’s normal to lose a game at home and the supporters to react the way they did.
‘My message was the same message that the supporters gave to the players.
‘When you play the way you play, when you create what you create, when we miss the chances that we missed, when at half-time everybody was frustrated but totally convinced that was going to win the match, then it is okay.
‘I’m really happy, humbled by the way the supporters reacted to the boys.
‘I think was very much deserved but sometimes players don’t get what they deserve.’
United were indeed the better team in the first half but fell apart once Harry Kane gave Tottenham the lead early in the second period.
Mourinho started the game with a back three that including midfielder Ander Herrera. And it was when he was asked if he knew what his best defence was that Mourinho’s post-match mood turned sour.
‘No,’ he said. ‘Because in the first game it Lindelof and Bailly, now Jones and Smalling but now Jones is injured and the next match will be Smalling with another one and when Rojo comes back he will be an option and I don’t know my best back four.
‘But you want to make the miracle of my team playing so well and strategically we were so, so good and you want to try and transform this press conference into “let’s blame the guy”.
‘You have to tell me what is the most important thing.
‘When I win matches I come here many times and you are not happy and you say the most important is the way of playing.
‘So I need to know what is the most important thing. If it is to play well or win matches?
‘Today we were aggressive, we pressed high and Tottenham couldn’t make two passes coming from the back.
‘They have one corner and score a goal and with that goal you want to transform the story of your game.
‘The best judge in football are the supporters, they are the best supporters.’
Asked about supporters leaving the stadium early, Mourinho continued his offensive.
‘I would do the same if we were losing 3-0 and it had taken two hours from here to the centre of Manchester,’ he said.
‘We lost last season here against Sevilla and were booed because we deserved it and today the players left the pitch and were applauded because they deserved it.
‘So keep trying, keep trying… keep trying.’
Mourinho has simmered with ill-disguised anger this season after not receiving the players he wanted in the transfer market. This seems to have destabilised some of the players he does have but he claimed last night that unity was not a problem.
‘The market is closed, he said.
‘There is no market until January 1. I’ve said what I need to say, and I won’t say another word about that.
‘Anyone who watched this game, one thing they know for sure is the team is united. The boys don’t give everything they gave if the team isn’t united. I think it’s the time to stop with untruths.
‘The solidarity to play together for United and lose at home is hard for everyone, but the team is united. There is no union without the manager.’
Tottenham are now joint top of the Premier League after winning – and scoring – for the first time under Mauricio Pochettino at Old Trafford.
Kane said: ‘We’re trying to create our own history. We’re not a club who have been at the top of the league winning titles like United and Chelsea.
‘We’ve been doing well but we’ve not quite got there. We’ve got the hunger and the desire to take the club to the next level. For us, it’s a about building what we’ve been doing for the last four of five years now. We’ve got so much belief in each other.
‘A lot of us have been playing for a while now and that always helps. You’re not going to play well every game, but we stuck together and we kept going.
‘The gaffer said he’s not going to bring players in for the sake of it. He believes in this squad and that’s a huge bonus for us. We have to prove him right and prove the club right as well.’
Pochettino was also delighted.
The Spurs manager said: ‘It is a massive victory for us and I am very proud of the performance. It is difficult to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. They were better in the first half but we dominated from then on, and the clean sheet was a bonus.
‘It is only the start of the season and we need to be consistent.’