Sluggish United draw third straight game, Lukaku carried off
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was under scrutiny for the first time this season after the team dropped further out of Premier League title contention with a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton yesterday.
With their third straight draw over the busy Christmas period, United slipped to third place and were 14 points behind leaders Manchester City, having played a game more.
Boos rang around Old Trafford at the final whistle, and former players questioned United's players' attitude and Mourinho's ability to get the best out of his team.
Troublingly for the Portuguese coach, United also have a striker shortage in the immediate future after Romelu Lukaku was carried off on a stretcher after a clash of heads in the first half against Southampton. Mourinho later said back-up striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be out for a month with a knee injury
Mourinho's replies were terse in his post-match interviews, with United's coach focusing his unhappiness on referee Craig Pawson's failure to award a penalty for a handball against Southampton defender Maya Yoshida.
The pressure is ramping up on United and Mourinho ahead of a match against Everton tomorrow. United's other results over Christmas are 2-2 draws against Leicester and Burnley, and its main task might now be holding on to a place in the top four with Liverpool three points back in fourth.
FOCUS IS KEY
"The pressure is coming from behind," United midfielder Paul Pogba said, "but we have to forget about everyone else and focus on ourselves."
United took a while to regroup after losing Lukaku and struggled to open up a visiting defence that produced an embarrassing display in conceding five goals against Tottenham four days earlier.
Lukaku fell to the ground when Southampton defender Wesley Hoedt's head went into the back of the striker's head in an aerial challenge. After a break of at least five minutes, Lukaku was carried off to applause from both sets of fans.
"When you see a player leave the pitch like he did, it is usually two games at least," Mourinho said.
Other results: Bournemouth 2 Everton 1; Chelsea 5 Stoke 0; Huddersfield 0 Burnley 0; Liverpool 2 Leicester 1; Newcastle 0 Brighton 0; Watford 1 Swansea 2.