Mourinho fielded four forwards - Sanchez, Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard - in an attacking-looking line-up at Old Trafford but United only broke free of the shackles in the desperate closing minutes. A stubborn Mourinho, who has won the competition with Porto and Inter Milan, said his side had not put in a "bad performance" but that contrasted with the sour mood in Manchester after a first home European defeat since 2013 to a Sevilla side only fifth in La Liga. "If you are a team at home, the onus is on you to go out and attack and make sure you take the game away from the opposing team," said former United defender Rio Ferdinand, who won the Champions League under Alex Ferguson in 2008. The question for fans is why Mourinho is seemingly unable, or unwilling, to set his attacking superstars free.
“It's not the end of the world.”Jose Mourinho says he does not want to make a “drama” out of Man Utd's Champions League exit with a huge FA Cup quarter-final clash just around the corner. ? pic.twitter.com/COSzWFuWdq — Goal UK (@GoalUK) March 14, 2018
Pogba, who cost a then world-record £89m ($124m) in 2016 as Mourinho's first big signing, was again dropped, this time in favour of the more robust Marouane Fellaini, a decision that drew stinging criticism from The Times newspaper. "Fellaini was by no means United's worst player but what was he there for exactly? To expose what failing in Seville? To bring what to United’s midfield?," asked chief sports writer Matt Dickinson. "True, he did go closer than his teammates to breaking the deadlock but if picking him always felt like turning up at a party with a baseball bat, United were duly lacking in any subtlety. Creative passing through central midfield was non-existent."
The way @ManUtd set up at Old Trafford today to counter attack this @SevillaFC_ENG team (weakest Sevilla team for years btw) was baffling. But also the players are the ones who set the tempo too, far too slow & cautious in possession & so passive without it ?— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 13, 2018
The Telegraph called United's display "embarrassingly inept". Only once the situation was dire did Mourinho throw on another £70 million of attacking talent in Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to ride to the rescue. But to no avail. "There are players in that squad to play good attacking football with the money that's been spent," said former United midfielder Paul Scholes, also part of the team that won the 2008 Champions League. A major investment was also made to bring Sanchez to the club in January on reportedly the most lucrative contract in Premier League history but he has been a huge disappointment so far.
"He looks a shadow of the player he was, he looks a stranger in this team...""In some ways, I feel sorry for him."@rioferdy5 discusses Alexis Sánchez after another below-par display for Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/tQadySYbjk — Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 13, 2018
"Sanchez for one, he just looks a shadow of the player he was," said Ferdinand. "When he was at Arsenal he was the one everyone looked to for inspiration. Here, he just looks like a stranger in this team." The mounting evidence suggests it is Mourinho's failure to harness the best from his attacking players that is to blame, rather than a clutch of stars going off the boil. Despite the uncomfortable marriage between United's much-vaunted attacking history and Mourinho's cagey tactics, the club have backed their manager, rewarding him with a new contract until 2020 and he hinted that even more cash may be thrown at fixing United's problems. "Everything together (needs to improve), everybody spends money, not just us," said Mourinho. The added problem for Mourinho is that runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City are setting pulses racing and the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham also play an exciting brand of football.
"He's a manager who has spent nearly £1 billion in his career and his teams play like that"https://t.co/sev8TrPMjO— AS English (@English_AS) March 14, 2018