Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho took a swipe at some of the widespread praise of Liverpool’s form this season following their 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had scored 18 goals in their first seven Premier League games, which included away wins against Arsenal and Chelsea, but they were frustrated by United in a tense stalemate on Monday.
David de Gea made two excellent saves for the visitors but Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the best chance of the match when he headed wide from a Paul Pogba cross in the second half.
Mourinho felt that moment should have been enough to seal the win for his side, but suggested that the plaudits aimed at a Liverpool team who were kept at arm’s length for much of the match have been exaggerated this season.
“I think it was a very difficult game, more difficult for them than us,” he told Sky Sports. “I think we kept control for long periods. First half we were in complete control, second half David had two great saves but they were out of context.
“The game was in complete control, tactically and emotionally. We controlled the emotion of ourselves and also them, we influenced that atmosphere in the stadium – they were always showing disappointment. They were expecting an easy game and it wasn’t.
“We had a big chance that I thought Zlatan would score – you score that, it’s 1-0, thank you, it’s finished.
“We knew it would be very difficult for them to score a goal and we thought we’d score the goal to win the match. We tried to start strong in both halves but they are a good team. But they’re not the last wonder of the world like you try to say they are.”
United registered just 35 per cent possession during the 90 minutes, but Mourinho was not concerned by such a low figure.
“It was the game plan we had, we didn’t want to control by having the ball all the time,” he said simply.
Paul Pogba was deployed in a central role behind Ibrahimovic but, apart from setting up the Swede’s second-half header, the France star was once again a peripheral figure for United.
And Mourinho admitted that he was disappointed by his side’s lack of penetration on the counter-attack.
“We missed a bit of sharpness in the middle,” he added.
“I was expecting a bit more penetration in the Pogba position. I thought about playing [Marcus] Rashford off Zlatan but then the boy had cramp. I thought, in these moments, let’s not lose it.”