Jose Mourinho singled out defender Luke Shaw as responsible for Manchester United’s crushing third defeat in eight days.
Mourinho once labelled Watford boss Walter Mazzarri “a donkey” when the pair were rivals in Italian football – but it was the Portuguese who was left looking an ass last night.
Watford swept aside a wretched United with goals from Etienne Capoue, Juan Camilo Zuniga and a penalty from Troy Deeney – Marcus Rashford netting for a team who were totally outplayed.
But Mourinho, who berated Shaw as he took the full-back off straight after Zuniga’s second goal, was left fuming.
“For the second goal, their player receives the ball and our left-back [Luke Shaw] is 25 metres from him instead of five. But even at 25 metres, you have to jump and press, but no, we wait.
“This is not a tactical but a mental attitude. An individual mistake. A mistake that went against our plan and our training. The guy gets the ball and we give him the space to progress.”
Mourinho was also fuming at referee Michael Oliver for allowing Watford’s first goal, when there appeared to be a clear foul on Anthony Martial.
“No debate. No controversy,” said Mourinho. “That was an obvious situation, like it was obvious last week against Man City. That is something I cannot control.
“When we equalised, everyone thought we were going to win because we were in complete control. The game was there to win.”
But the Portuguese admitted he had known the size of the task he faced well before this dismal week.
“My feeling is that it was not because we started the season very well with Community Shield and three victories in a row in the League, that my team was ready, perfect, unbeatable. Not at all,” he said.
“I was completely aware that we were not perfect, with lots of players who are not end products and can make mistakes. My only doubt was about the way they cope with the negative moments.
“Some individuals probably feel that pressure and responsibility too much.
“I can’t do anything about the referee’s mistakes. I can’t do anything about luck. But the third thing is in my hands, which is the improvement of the team and individuals. And I knew I had a task. It’s something that doesn’t become perfect in a couple of weeks.”
One week, three games, three defeats. This is not what the Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United was meant to look like.
United were outclassed at home by Manchester City and never got going at Feyenoord. But this at Vicarage Road was there worst of all. They were out-run and out-fought all over the pitch, beaten 3-1 by two late goals, a reward for their hosts who found an extra level at the end.
Mourinho’s tenure is just over one-month-old and any team with a new manager and new players can expect to improve. But this, United’s seventh game of the season, was their worst result and performance. Runs this bad are quite familiar in United’s recent history.
They lost four in a row under Louis van Gaal last December. But Mourinho was brought in to improve standards and get results. And this week his team has looked as far away as ever. This is the first team he has lost three straight games in a season since he was at Porto.