A disappointing Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at home to promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Saturday, leaving them eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool. Asked whether this was down to the Lindelöf-Smalling partnership, Mourinho said: "No, I think the team as a team is resolving the defensive problems better than before".
"Paul came back from the World Cup, and he was the last one to come because he played the final", said Mourinho. And I think we are improving as a team. "They deserve the point and I think we deserve the punishment of only one point".
That form has lifted United ahead of tonight's clash against Wolves, yet growing optimism is underpinned by the manager's sustained belief - first uttered in pre-season as transfer frustration grew - that this will be a tough campaign. We have to win today because after that it will be hard to close the gap.
Having strung together wins over Burnley, Watford and Young Boys, United seemed to be finding a groove but were brought back down to earth by a sluggish display in front of the returning Sir Alex Ferguson.
United grew in confidence after scoring and it required an acrobatic diving save by Rui Patricio deep in first half injury-time to deny Fred a second goal, this from a left-foot free-kick.
"It is a bit of a contradiction but I'm more disappointed today than I was against Tottenham". Then you start in a poor way. "They started better were more aggressive, had more intent and I don't know why but they were more motivated", the United manager said.
"This is something you learn as a kid in the academy".
"I can't explain the difference of attitude because I never have a difference of attitude", he added.
I could go in this direction but Alexis Sánchez and Jesse Lingard didn't play. "I don't want to say our improvement has the name of Chris or Victor; the team is playing better and they are part of the team that plays these matches". So yes, it's a mental situation. It is a basic law of football, you have to play at the maximum of your potential, unless you are playing in such a weak league against such weak opponents where playing at 30 percent of your potential is enough. "That's not the case, and we all know that".
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