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Mourinho: "It's my fault because I am the manager"

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Though he had plenty to say about his underperforming players, Manchester United's manager accepted the blame for yesterday's derby defeat.

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Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As you might expect following a moderately chastening home defeat, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had plenty of blame to spread around.

I think in the first half, they were much better than us. We started the game badly. We started the game with some players really below the normal level, in terms of their concentration and their mental ability to play a game of this speed. You need to be sharp, the way you think and the way you play, we had a few players below the level. The team paid for it. In the first half, they were in control.

The obvious candidates for "some players" were Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard, who were both withdrawn at half-time. But while Mourinho acknowledged their underperformance — and said he only waited until half-time because he did not want to "destroy" them — he stressed his criticisms weren't limited to just those two.

It was not just about them. Other players were also not playing really well and obviously, as well as my decision, I don't like to go in the direction of singling out players. Let's say our team didn't play well in the first-half and their responsibilities are my responsibilities.

Addressing his half-time team talk, Mourinho explained that the team had not been following instructions:

What I said at half-time I told them in the last three days, instead of 10 minutes, much more. So every time we were preparing the game and every time we were analysing and trying to reduce the unpredictability of the game, we spoke about this situations. What I told them at half-time was for some of you it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do. And it was this: I told 20 times today never play the first station ball, never, never play because it's where they want to press. It happened 20 times during the game.

And he suggested that the occasion had got to a few of his starters.

I think some of the boys felt the dimension of the game. Everything around the game – the derby, the big game, Man United, Man City, the focus, the attention. Some of the guys, they felt it. But it had nothing to do with inexperience or age because we have the kid [Rashford] in the second half and the kid looked like he was playing in the under-18s against Salford City. It’s about the individual and how everyone reacts to the dimension of the occasion in different ways. It’s difficult to predict.

Ultimately, though, he brought the blame back to himself. In slightly pointed fashion ...

I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don't play them. This is football, though, and sometimes players disappoint managers. It's my fault because I'm the manager and it's always my fault because it's my choice.

... and with, of course, a shoutout for Mark Clattenburg.

It's a penalty and a red card for Bravo. If you tell me that that's not a penalty and a red card, I tell you that, for sure, outside the box it's a free-kick and a red card. Inside the box has to be the same.