Jose Mourinho insists Jurgen Klopp's tactics and not his own should be under the microscope after Liverpool and Manchester United's drab 0-0 draw at Anfield.
United dropped two points behind Manchester City at the Premier League summit, their neighbours inflicting a 7-2 demolition job on Stoke City, after showing scant attacking intent against opponents who now have one win from their last eight games in all competitions.
But Mourinho pointed to the long-term injuries suffered by Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini as factors that prevented him from gaining midfield supremacy.
Additionally, given Liverpool are seven points behind United in the table, the Portuguese expected his adversary Klopp to break up a central three of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum and chase victory.
"We came for three [points] but in the second half we felt it was difficult to do that with the dynamic the match had," Mourinho told a post-match news conference.
"I was waiting for Jurgen to go more attacking but he kept the three strong midfield players all the time where he had control.
"He decided to change player by player and that midfield today was stronger than my midfield. I had [Ander] Herrera and [Nemanja] Matic and no-one on the bench. I could not bring Herrera to the number 10 position, where he could be more effective with the high pressing.
"So the second half was difficult for us.
"If we score a goal in the first half then maybe the second half is different. Then he risks, then he changes his structure.
"When I brought [Jesse] Lingard and [Marcus] Rashford on, I was waiting for him to give me more space to counter but he didn't give me it."
Next step: October 14, 2017
Pressed on the seemingly irrefutable notion that United, who were restricted to 37.8 per cent possession and did not muster a single shot after half-time, were the most defensive side on show, Mourinho offered an alternative take on events.
"Probably you think we were defensive and they were offensive. Well, you [Liverpool] are at home and you don't move anything… I don't know. I was waiting for that," he said.
"I think he [Klopp] did well. He didn't let the game break. Lingard and Rashford were waiting for the game to be broken and it was never broken.
"They pressed high, they recovered the ball. They were a very good team from the defensive point of view.
"The second half was a bit of chess but my opponent didn’t open the door for me to win the game."
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