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Romelu has the remedy for Jose's Ed-ache

China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-04 09:02
Tempers flare between Burnley's Phil Bardsley and Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, who moments later was sent off for headbutting the Clarets defender during Sunday's English Premier League match at Turf Moor. United won 2-0. PHIL NOBLE/REUTERS

BURNLEY, England - Manager Jose Mourinho dedicated Manchester United's 2-0 victory over Burnley on Sunday to beleaguered executive Ed Woodward as his club returned to winning ways in an incident-packed clash at Turf Moor.

Mourinho, whose name was chanted throughout the afternoon by the 2,400 traveling fans, also claimed Marcus Rashford had been naive in being shown a straight red card, just 10 minutes after appearing as a 60th-minute substitute, following an altercation with Phil Bardsley.

By that stage, United was comfortably in front thanks to two goals from Romelu Lukaku and could even afford the luxury of a missed Paul Pogba penalty, won by Rashford following a foul by Ben Mee.

Given the delicate political situation at Old Trafford, the afternoon was as notable for events off the field as on it.

Before kickoff, supporters paid for a small plane to fly over the ground, towing a banner that read: "Ed Woodward, a specialist in failure".

The accusation - one which Mourinho famously directed at former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger when he himself was in charge of Chelsea - referenced the executive vice-chairman's supposed inability to deliver the United manager his desired transfer targets this summer.

But while Mourinho praised the United fans, who supported their players after a stunning 3-0 home loss to Tottenham six days earlier, he also offered a hint of support for Woodward.

"In the match I'm not looking at the sky, unless I'm asking for the guy to give me help!" joked Mourinho.

"I didn't see the plane but Ed Woodward won this afternoon, 2-0.

"I think we started winning this match because of Old Trafford, after Spurs. We lost at home, and if the fans had reacted bad the team loses confidence, the week is not a good week because the team feels pressure.

"But we lost at home and the fans were amazing to the team.

"My players understood the direction was good and it was not a sad week, it was a very good week at work and we started the way you saw."

Despite the pre-match protest, and supporters clearly siding with their manager in any dispute between him and Woodward, the afternoon should have been a routine one after Lukaku scored twice in the first half.

After 26 minutes the big Belgian rose powerfully between two defenders to head in an Alexis Sanchez cross before he reacted sharply following a deflected Jesse Lingard shot and swept home from six yards.

Mourinho claimed that Pogba will remain United's penalty taker, despite his miss, should he wish to remain on duty.

But what had been an unqualified United success to that point was somewhat diminished when Rashford headbutted Bardsley after being cynically fouled by the 33-year-old former United defender.

"I didn't see it, the only thing I can say is that is probably the experience of Bardsley, 20 years in football, against the impulse and naivety of a guy who has been in top football for three years but is still a young head," said Mourinho.

"Harsh? I don't know. You could give yellows for both and keep going, maybe."

The closing stages should have seen Lukaku claim a hattrick, as he twice missed one-on-ones when clean through on Joe Hart, but not even those errors could reduce Mourinho's appreciation for the burly forward's efforts.

"He played very well for us, scored two important goals," said Mourinho.

"He could have scored more but maybe he was a bit tired, playing with 10 men.

"He should be leaving here with a hat-trick, easily. But the important thing is he is back to goals and we're back to victories."

Agence France-Presse

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