Paul Pogba admitted his “attitude wasn’t right” in Manchester United’s defeat at Brighton, while manager Jose Mourinho side-stepped a question about whether his team are capable of challenging for the Premier League title in the wake of the demoralising defeat.
United were woeful as they fell to a 3-2 loss at the Amex Stadium on the south coast on Sunday in a result that, even in defeat, flattered Mourinho’s side.
Brighton were ahead 3-1 at half-time and frustrated United until Pogba converted a penalty in the final minute, and the Frenchman suggested after the final whistle he had not been mentally prepared for the game.
“They had more hunger than us,” Pogba told Sky Sports. “I put myself first, that my attitude wasn’t right enough. We made mistakes we shouldn’t make.
“We were playing at home last week [in a win over Leicester] and that’s different. Different teams, different tactics. I know you cannot always play very, very good. The attitude always has to be very good and we missed that.”
Mourinho, though, refused to single out any of his players for particular criticism saying he had learned from being “too honest, too open in my analysis” in the past.
And asked in his news conference whether he expected United to fight back and challenge Manchester City and Liverpool this season, the Portuguese coach appeared downbeat about their chances.
“At the end of November, December you will have an idea if we can compete,” Mourinho said.
The result came on the back of a series of warnings from Mourinho about how tough his team could find this season after a summer which saw them miss out on key transfer targets, particularly a right winger and a centre-back.
But Mourinho refused to blame the result on an underwhelming transfer window despite watching centre-backs Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly make key mistakes following a summer during which he wanted to buy another central defender.
“I am not going to speak about the market,” he said. “We made mistakes and were punished by our mistakes. Sometimes you make mistakes and are punished, sometimes the opponent doesn’t take advantage of the gifts, and sometimes they do and this time was almost three on three so they were critical in the gifts that we gave them and because of that I think they deserve [to win].
“Every person in every job makes a mistake is not happy, self-esteem goes down a little bit more, confidence levels, that’s human nature so if you ask me if my players are in this moment happy, I don’t think they are.”