Jose Mourinho is frustrated by Manchester United’s tendency to dip in focus and motivation just as they begin to build up a head of steam.
The Old Trafford giants have had to deal with a large amount of scrutiny in the opening weeks of the season due to a topsy-turvy start.
An opening-day win at home to Leicester was followed by back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Tottenham, which they reacted to with a three-match winning streak on the road.
Manchester United’s momentum was halted by a defeat to Derby (Martin Rickett/PA)
But the positive momentum has gone again after last weekend’s draw with Wolves at Old Trafford was followed by a shock Carabao Cup exit to Derby.
United head to improving West Ham looking to kick-start their campaign again, with the failure to maintain positive results clearly frustrating Mourinho.
“First of all, if you want to be pragmatic, if you want to be analysing what sport is and what sport can be, Real Madrid lost 3-0, Barcelona lost five points in two matches, AC Milan drew against Empoli, a newly-promoted team,” the United boss said.
“It looks like in football it is getting shorter and shorter and shorter the distance between the big clubs and the other clubs. That, for me, is an obvious situation.
Jose Mourinho, right, with Phil Jones after United’s Carabao Cup loss, is worried by a dip in focus from his players (Martin Rickett/PA)
“But, you know, I sometimes feel frustrated because the work we do and what we give to the process, I’m always expecting more.
“Especially I’m expecting more in terms of stability in the process and it looks like when we feel that we are really improving and playing better and having a good run of results, it looks like there is always a little going down in terms of the focus or the motivation.
“That I feel. That’s why when I come to you, you never see me speaking like ‘I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow’. I expect to win tomorrow, I expect to play very well tomorrow.
“We work very, very well, especially Wednesday and Thursday, so tomorrow I expect a very good performance and I expect to win a very difficult match.”
Mourinho does not believe that any of it is down to players being frightened by the expectation of playing for United, who could do with a shot in the arm in east London to avoid slipping further behind the pack.
Mourinho has described West Ham’s Manuel Pellegrini as a champion manager (Nigel French/PA)
“I don’t come here (to the press conference) and say, ‘the training session was not very good and the players are not committed and I have a bad feeling, I have the feeling that tomorrow we are not going to play very well, that we are not going to win’,” the Portuguese said.
“No, that’s why after matches sometimes I have that feeling of being frustrated or surprised by a lack of concentration, by a lack of apparent. I repeat apparent because, I believe, in a lack of commitment and lack of attitude.
“But if I put myself in the position of a journalist or in the position of somebody that understands, sometimes I feel maybe people think ‘the boys are not committed’.
“Maybe people can think ‘the manager doesn’t demand enough from them’, maybe people think ‘on the training ground we don’t train enough this area or that area or that area’. That’s quite frustrating.
“But, again, I repeat I think tomorrow we are going to play very well and I think we are going to win, I repeat, a very difficult match against a very good opponent.
“An opponent with great investment, an opponent with a champion manager, with lots of experienced players, with lots of very talented players. Very difficult but I am very positive.”