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Mourinho urges struggling United to do better against Newcastle

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By Reuters
Mourinho urges struggling United to do better against Newcastle
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group Stage - Group H - Manchester United v Valencia - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - October 2, 2018 Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gestures Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith   -   Copyright  LEE SMITH(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes there are “many reasons” why the team have underperformed this season, telling reporters on Friday that Newcastle United will be a tough opponent as he looks to end a run of four games without a win.

Pressure has mounted on the Portuguese coach in recent weeks after United’s first 10 games yielded a return of four wins, three draws and three defeats, with one of the draws preceding a League Cup penalty shootout exit to second-tier Derby County.

“We can do much better. To do that we need points,” Mourinho said of a side languishing in 10th place in the Premier League standings, nine points behind champions Manchester City after seven fixtures.

“Yes, I accept (results have not been good enough),” he added in a tense news conference that lasted a little more than three-and-a-half minutes.

Asked by journalists why United were struggling, Mourinho replied “for many different reasons” but refused to elaborate.

United have not won at home since beating Leicester 2-1 in the first match of the season and off-field issues, including reports of a rift between the manager and midfielder Paul Pogba, have been an unwelcome distraction.

Newcastle are also struggling, without a win and sitting third-bottom in the standings.

“We know our opponent also needs points,” Mourinho added. “They have a very, very, very good coach (Rafael Benitez), a team that is always well organised against teams of the first part of the table.

“The results they had against the top teams didn’t get them points yet this season but they gave them very, very close results and difficult matches for the opposition, so we expect a difficult match.”

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)