Ryan Giggs has said Manchester United fans must accept Jose Mourinho’s defensive approach after they recorded their lowest possession statistics in a Premier League match since Opta records began.
United had just 35 percent possession in Monday’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool and Giggs, who spent his entire playing career under Sir Alex Ferguson, said while working as a Sky Sports pundit that the performance was not the style he had come to expect.
When fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher asked Giggs whether he would accept the tactics or be frustrated as a United fan, he said: “One hundred percent. That’s something we accept at the moment.
“You know, that’s the climate that we’re in. You see the games coming up — Fenerbahce, Chelsea, [Manchester] City. If you lose tonight the pressure is on, so you just don’t lose — but then you’ve got to go and win against Chelsea, you’ve got to win against Fenerbahce.”
Giggs, who spent the previous two campaigns working as Louis van Gaal’s assistant, added: “It’s baby steps. It’s about getting to the top but it all comes down to results.
“You’re seeing the possession there — 35 percent. Well, last year Louis was going a bit of stick because it was 65 percent, but you’ve got to win. If you’re having 35 percent of the game tonight and you win, then everyone’s happy. If you’re getting draws continually or you’re not winning, that’s when the supporters aren’t happy.”
Asked about Ander Herrera’s suggestion that United have to play with the intention of nullifying the opposition in big games, Giggs disagreed.
“No,” he said. “Maybe tonight — you’re going against a Liverpool team who, you’ve seen the build-up, everyone is expecting to blow United away, or to play better than they did.
“Like I said, it’s a good draw but you have to beat Fenerbahce on Thursday, then the momentum builds and then you’re going into the Chelsea game and Manchester City game full of confidence. But you get beaten tonight and the confidence is gone.”
Former United defender Gary Neville, also working as a Sky Sports pundit, said the performance “tells you a little bit about where United are at tonight.”
He added: “In Mourinho’s first year back at Chelsea he said they weren’t ready to win the league and I don’t think this Manchester United team are.
“The game plan was good but you’ve got to be able to counter-attack off of it, and that’s the next step to really cause problems, but they didn’t really have the quality or the pace to do that.
“United did exactly what Mourinho would have wanted but he said afterwards they fell a little bit short in the attacking third, and they didn’t get enough set-pieces either.
“I think there have been three or four bad transfer windows [before the summer], but I think the team will have gone up in his estimation tonight.”
He said Mourinho may need “one or two more transfer windows” to address the “jump in quality that’s required.”
He added: “He’ll be brutal and clinical in terms of the players he doesn’t want, he’ll know already who he wants. He’ll know what he needs and he’ll be identifying those weaknesses already and thinking of shifting those players out.
“But there’s no reason at this stage to not trust Mourinho as a Manchester United fan. There’s no point sitting here and saying, ‘Well, can he do it this time?’ He’s done it wherever he’s been.”