Jose Mourinho attributed his first defeat since taking charge of Manchester United to a lack of match sharpness, after Borussia Dortmund ran out 4-1 winners over his charges during their International Champions Cup tie in Shanghai.
This was only United’s second pre-season friendly of the summer, following last weekend’s 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic, while their opponents were playing their fourth.
The difference told, and the sweltering conditions in the Shanghai Stadium did not help, but it would not have been such an emphatic scoreline if Mourinho’s men had prevented basic errors.
“My thoughts are simple. I know that in pre-season the team that is at an advanced stage of preparation looks far better than the other team,” the former Chelsea manager said after the game.
“It happens year after year. Some good teams lose to a big result. I think it’s too obvious.
“After 10 minutes we know that one team started training 10 days ago and played one match, and the other team started one month ago and played already four games. It’s so easy to see the difference of intensity and sharpness. For us it was very difficult.
“I think 3-2 would be more natural than 4-1 but they (Dortmund) showed the good quality they had, individually and collectively. They showed that they are in a much advanced stage.
Mourinho refused to cast judgement on players, despite Sam Johnstone, Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo all making individual errors which led to Dortmund goals.
“To be fair I don’t think I can analyse them with this difference of power. At the moment the engines are completely different. Formula 1 against Formula 3.
“At the moment they are much sharper and you can see that easily, so it’s difficult to judge my players.
“Even in these circumstances it’s quite easy to get three or four or five of them that you can see under difficult circumstances that the quality is there. The mentality and personality is there. It’s easy for me,” he added.
“But, no, 10 days of work, people are really tired, the match is against high quality opposition and in a much advanced stage of their preparation.”
Mourinho went on to reiterate his desire to make one more ‘fundamental’ addition to his squad in central midfield – widely expected to be Paul Pogba, the Juventus midfielder – with supplementary signings possibly following afterwards.
“I said in the first press conference at Old Trafford that our market has a fundamental part, and that part is four players – one central defender, one midfielder, one striker and one creative player. When we finish that fundamental market we are balanced.
“Maybe today you don’t feel it but no Ibrahimovic, no Fellaini, no Martial, no Schneiderlin. Lots of them that are not here yet.
“Then the market will be open until August 31. Sometimes things happen that you are not expecting and we have to react.
“But our fundamental market is 75 per cent done and when we sign one midfield player that crucial work will be done.”