LONDON – Manchester United fans have invited manager Jose Mourinho to discuss his concerns around the atmosphere at Old Trafford after apparent tensions surfaced in recent games.
The Portuguese boss held a finger to his lips, and told the doubters to calm down after his side beat Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday to remain five points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
In the build-up to Tuesday’s Champions League home win against Benfica, Mourinho wrote in his programme notes to supporters that he hoped they “enjoy the game more than some of you did against Tottenham”.
It followed a series of uninspiring performances by the formerly free-scoring United, including a drab 0-0 draw at Anfield.
The United boss was also put out by an apparent lack of support for Romelu Lukaku against Spurs, saying it was unfair that fans “don’t support him so much” and that they should view him as “untouchable” despite a fallow spell in recent weeks – he has gone six games without a goal after scoring 11 in his first 10 matches.
“There are differing views amongst supporters on precisely how to interpret the manager’s comments,” the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) said in a statement.
“However, it’s probably fair to say there is a universal desire within the stadium to see atmosphere improved just as there is at other Premier League clubs.
“There are a number of factors that have contributed to atmosphere decline over the decades, some of which could be addressed with better cooperation between clubs and supporters.”
United take on Chelsea on Sunday but they are not back in action on home soil until November 18, when Newcastle visit in the late Premier League kickoff.
Mourinho has regularly spoken about the Old Trafford atmosphere since joining the club, but support for players is a new issue.
The United boss did, though, offer an insight into the seemingly current fragile nature of Lukaku’s confidence after preventing him from taking a penalty on Tuesday.
Mourinho’s men rode their luck after taking the lead against Benfica through Mile Svilar’s own goal, with Daley Blind told to take the spot-kick that wrapped up a 2-0 win rather than Lukaku – now without a club goal since September 30.
Mourinho defended his decision to order Blind to take the penalty.
“My decision, based on what we did in training in the past couple of days, was Blind,” he said. “The players respected my decision. That’s it, end of story.”