‘We don’t have technical quality’: Mourinho admits United problems

first_img0Shares0000United manager Mourinho looks on during the opening exchanges of Tuesday night’s game at Old Trafford. Photo/COURTESYMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 3 – Jose Mourinho risked causing another rift with his Manchester United stars as he slammed his defence’s lack of “technical quality” after their 0-0 draw with Valencia.The frustrating Champions League clash at Old Trafford means Mourinho’s side have gone four games without a win in all competitions. United rarely looked like scoring against their out-of-form opponents and were booed off at full-time.It was another blow for Mourinho, who has come under fire after presiding over United’s worst since to a league season for 29 years.Mourinho has feuded with star midfielder Paul Pogba, as well as other members of his squad.And now he has taken a swipe at his back four, which against Valencia featured Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw.“We don’t have the technical quality to build from the back,” Mourinho said.“The players tried. They raised the level of their intensity in spite of the fact we don’t have many with that intensity.“We had probably a couple of the biggest chances to win it but I have accepted the result as a fair result.”Mourinho admitted United had focused on stopping Valencia causing them problems, even though they were at home, because his team are so badly lacking confidence at present.“We tried to do something we did well which was to stop a fast team on the counter attack. We knew we wouldn’t create 20 chances,” he said.“Our attacking players aren’t in their best moments of confidence and individual level. We thought with three or four chances we would score and win the game.“It is a not a bad result. Not a good result, but not bad. We have two matches against Juventus to make points. It is a very difficult group, yes.“We have Newcastle (this weekend) before the league stops, then we have Chelsea and Juventus in three days. It will be good for the team if we can beat Newcastle.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

U.S. in for long Afghan stay

first_imgInsurgents have launched more than 100 suicide attacks this year, an unprecedented pace, including a bombing in Kabul on Saturday against a U.S. convoy that killed an American soldier and four Afghan civilians – the third suicide blast in Kabul in a week. More than 5,100 people – mostly militants – have died in insurgency related violence so far this year, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and Western officials. That far outpaces last year’s violence, when the AP count topped 4,000 for the entire year. Some 87 U.S. troops have also died so far this year, also a record pace. About 90 U.S. service members were killed in all of last year. Wide areas of the south – in Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces – are controlled by the Taliban, and the fighting is migrating north, into Ghazni province – where 23 South Koreans were kidnapped in July – and Wardak, right next door to Kabul, the capital. Osama bin Laden, whose presence here was a trigger for the U.S.-led attack, is still at large, possibly hiding in the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. And Afghan farmers this year grew a record amount of opium poppy, prompting officials to draw up plans to use the military in drug interdiction missions against traffickers. Rubin said Washington ignored how difficult the fight would be and wanted to prevent U.S. forces from being tied down in nation-building exercises as in the Balkans. “Since 2005, U.S. generals have told me (former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) was drumming his fingers on the table trying to find out when he could take the troops out,” Rubin said. “Now the administration has completely reversed itself, but of course without ever admitting it was wrong and still without a strategy that has a serious chance of success.” Still, U.S. commanders point out that military operations have killed more than 50 mid- and high-level Taliban commanders this year, causing at least a temporary disruption in the militants’ abilities. The Afghan army participated in its first jointly planned and executed operation, in Ghazni province, earlier this summer. Originally, Pentagon planners thought Bagram would be a “temporary” camp, Ives said, but an increased U.S. commitment to Afghanistan means Bagram needs to grow. “Where we designed a base around 3,000 (troops), it quickly moved to 7,000 and now we’re housing about 13,000, so just in a very short period of time you’ve grown not necessarily exponentially but you’ve definitely doubled just about every two years,” Ives said. A new runway accommodates heavier C-5 cargo planes and Boeing 747s. New soldiers’ barracks – safer and more comfortable than the wooden structures that dot Bagram – are being built. And more workers are flowing in. Two years ago, some 1,500 Afghans worked in support roles at Bagram; today 5,000 walk through its front gates daily. Six years after CIA agents and Special Forces soldiers helped the Northern Alliance swoop down from their northern stronghold toward Taliban-controlled Kabul, President Hamid Karzai is increasingly asking that Taliban militants join the government through peace talks. And the U.N. has said an increasing number of fighters want peace. But the Taliban and factional warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the militant group Hezb-i-Islami, have rejected those offers, saying that international troops must first leave the country.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Six years after the first U.S. bombs began falling on Afghanistan’s Taliban government and its al-Qaida guests, America is planning for a long stay. Originally envisioned as a temporary home for invading U.S. forces, the sprawling American base at Bagram, a former Soviet outpost in the shadow of the towering Hindu Kush mountains, is growing in size by nearly a third. Today the U.S. has about 25,000 troops in the country, and other NATO nations contribute another 25,000, more than three times the number of international troops in the country four years ago, when the Taliban appeared defeated. The Islamic militia has come roaring back since then, and 2007 has been the battle’s bloodiest year yet. Barnett R. Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan at New York University, said U.S. leaders in Washington “utterly failed” to understand what was needed to consolidate that original Taliban rout, which started with airstrikes on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks in Washington and New York. “The Bush administration did not see Afghanistan as a long-term commitment, and its leaders deceived themselves into thinking they had won an irreversible victory. They did not consider Afghanistan important and always intended to focus on Iraq,” he said. “Now the U.S. and international community have fallen way behind, and the Taliban are winning strategically, even if we defeat them in every tactical engagement,” he added. At Bagram, new barracks will help accommodate the record number of U.S. troops in the country. “We’ve grown in our commitment to Afghanistan by putting another brigade (of troops) here, and with that we know that we’re going to have an enduring presence,” said Col. Jonathan Ives. “So this is going to become a long-term base for us, whether that means five years, 10 years – we don’t know.” last_img read more