Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho conceded that the defeat by Tottenham was ‘not the game’ for Alexis Sanchez, but was encouraged by his efforts overall.
Christian Eriksen’s 11th-second strike put United behind the eight-ball immediately before Phil Jones’s own goal compounded the visitors’ woes in the first half.
It was not the kind of Premier League debut Sanchez was hoping for in a United shirt.
He struggled to track back on the right-hand side in the first half as Spurs bombed down the flank and was forced to drop deeper in a central role after the break.
Despite it not being a dream start, Mourinho believes there is much to be optimistic about.
‘He worked hard, but again the transformation the game had, the game was not for him,’ the manager said after the 2-0 defeat.
‘In the second half, I tried to give him a position where he could be closer to [Romelu] Lukaku but then he felt the need to drop too much to organise.
‘But he gave everything, good effort and this is a good feeling for me to know that the player is available with that spirit.’
To make matters worse, Manchester City’s 3-0 win over West Brom on Wednesday saw them take a seemingly unassailable 15-point lead over their rivals at the top of the table.
And Mourinho conceded that their city rivals are undoubtedly feeling relaxed at the top of the ladder.
‘We lost. I always told that when the leader [in the table] is with a certain distance, I’ve been there a few times, you are calm, you’re relaxed, you don’t feel the pressure,’ he said.
‘You know that your opponents sooner or later are going to drop at least a couple of points and you’re completely in control, so yes we played match after match.
‘Yes, the Premier League finishes for us at Old Trafford in the last match against Watford in May but we knew that the distance to the leader was already considerable, even before this match.
‘Now we have us, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal – we will be there fighting for the positions.’
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