Jose Mourinho Says Absence of Marouane Fellaini Is Cause of Dropped Points Against Stoke
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has highlighted that Marouane Fellaini's absence during their 2-2 draw with Stoke on Saturday was the reason why they didn't come away with the win.
The Red Devils had plenty of momentum going into the game after beating West Ham, Swansea and Leicester all without conceding goal, which saw them comfortably at the top of the Premier League.
Stoke, however, were not going to be such an easy target after they took the lead late in the first half through Eric Choupo-Moting before Marcus Rashford levelled three minutes later during injury time. United went onto to take the lead at the restart with Romelu Lukaku adding to his tally, but Choupo-Moting came back again to earn Stoke a point.
Mourinho stated after the game that 'only one team wanted to win' once the game was levelled with The Guardian reporting that he was sure Fellaini's presence could have helped to see out the win after Stoke bombarded the United defence with a series of long balls.
However, Nemanja Matic continued to boss the midfield, and with a team consisting of eight players over 6ft, United weren't lacking their own aerial dominance when Stoke crossed a ball in for Choupo-Moting's equaliser.
There was also a confrontation between Mark Hughes and Mourinho when the Stoke boss crossed over the opposition technical area and he defended his side's tactics claiming that United were playing the long ball just as much as them.
He said: “That’s just an easy swipe at us really. You could argue United played more long balls and why wouldn’t they, because they’ve got power and pace and, if they can get those players ahead of the ball with good accuracy, they’ve got pace and power to burn.
“I don’t know what the stats are but I’d argue that in general play they played more long balls than we did because they’ve got that threat and that’s what they try to exploit. I think it’s a bit lazy of people to keep on reverting to that ‘Stoke are a physical team’ thing.”
United went into the game two points clear of Manchester City, but after their neighbours dismantled Liverpool and they dropped points against Stoke they now only remain at the top of the table through goal difference.