Is José Mourinho’s negativity a product of his failure to make it as a player? | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United manager’s often defensive tactics and desire for total control of his players could stem from a sense of being an outsider

It is a sad indication of the recent state of Liverpool that over the past couple of weeks they have seemed more significant as a test case for others than in and of themselves. José Mourinho took his Manchester United side to Anfield and, as he waited and waited and waited for the game “to break”, the watching world waited and waited and waited for something vaguely resembling action to break out. It didn’t and the game finished 0-0. Given Liverpool’s vulnerabilities and given Manchester City’s remarkable form, that felt even at the time like two points needlessly squandered.

A week later it felt even more like two points handed away as Tottenham Hotspur ruthlessly exploited Liverpool’s defensive problems to win 4-1 at Wembley. It’s not quite comparing like with like, of course – it will always be harder for United at Anfield than for Tottenham playing at home, even at Wembley – but the comparison still seemed telling, the limitations of an approach that simply waits for a mistake exposed.

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