Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said his squad lacks “mad dogs” and some players do not understand that “simplicity is genius” after seeing his side draw 2-2 at Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
United fell 16 points behind leaders Manchester City after a third successive league game without a win, but the draw did at least see United show fight in coming from two goals down on the south coast.
Goals from Romelu Lukaku — the Belgian’s first for United since mid-September — and Ander Herrera turned the match on its head before halftime, repairing the damage done by lacklustre early defending from the visitors.
With Chris Smalling injured, Mourinho deployed three central defenders but the Portuguese refused to blame his system for United’s sluggish start.
“Doesn’t matter the system we play,” Mourinho said. “(Not winning) has to do with the characteristics of the players.
“With all the respect, we don’t have many mad dogs that bite the ball and press all the time we don’t have many people with that spirit.
“When the players don’t understand that simplicity is genius, especially in some parts of the pitch, they keep and keep playing too complicated football and it’s too difficult to have that continuity.
“Because we lost so many balls in midfield, we lost so many balls in our transition to the last third, it was difficult to have that continuity.”
Mourinho did have words of praise for striker Marcus Rashford who set up both United goals with some strong, penetrative running.
“I thought he was outstanding today,” Mourinho added. “We spoke before the game about running, it’s very, very simple but in this day and age you have to run and run fast and be direct and make things happen.
“I think that Rashford by and large is the only player in the Manchester United team that does that.
“Rashford runs at players and it causes havoc, it changes the picture all the time. And when he does that it’s obviously another goal.”