Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said his players were “masters in complication” after their defeat by bottom side West Brom at Old Trafford.
The result saw Manchester City crowned Premier League champions, as they lead second-placed United by 16 points with five games each to play.
Albion secured the win thanks to a Jay Rodriguez header from Chris Brunt’s corner as the home side failed to clear their lines.
“It was a bad reaction after the City victory, the consequence of that is complicated football,” Mourinho said.
“Some players think it is stylish football. We were a complicated team and let them feel comfortable.”
United’s best chance of the game was a Romelu Lukaku header, which was superbly saved by Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster.
City manager Pep Guardiola had claimed he would be on the golf course on Sunday afternoon and would not watch the game.
The win was West Brom’s first since a 2-0 success over Brighton on 12 January and only their fourth all season.
However, Premier League survival still looks unlikely for the Baggies, who are nine points adrift of 17th-placed Swansea with four matches remaining.
Man Utd leave the handbrake on
Last weekend saw United complete a stunning comeback victory over City as they came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Etihad Stadium.
In that match, Mourinho’s side produced a poor first-half display before they rallied to deny City what would have been the sweetest of coronations as champions.
United should have been surfing the crest of the wave following that victory, but instead they fell flat against West Brom.
With the exception of the chance for Lukaku – and a penalty appeal when Ander Herrera was caught by Craig Dawson – it was a soporific first half for the home fans.
“Attack, attack, attack” was the call from the Stretford End after the break and while United were more purposeful with the directness of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, they could not find an equaliser.
It is hard to imagine United would have approached a home game against the bottom club, particularly in the first half, in such a way under Sir Alex Ferguson’s management.
In situations such as these – with United being second in the table – Ferguson may have trusted his players to play with more freedom and blow West Brom away, which begs the question of whether Mourinho has the same faith in his squad to deliver.
Afterwards, Mourinho indicated that his players did not execute the game plan as he had hoped.
“Everything was slow, one more flick, trick, turn. There was no fluidity,” he said.
Perhaps the only comfort for United supporters is that City were denied the kind of thrilling champagne moment that fans crave.
Instead, the title was decided on a wet Sunday afternoon when the new champions were not playing. It is hard to imagine City’s players and Guardiola being too bothered by that, though.
Moore enhances his credentials
Caretaker boss Darren Moore is a popular figure at Albion and has quickly introduced the kind of togetherness and organisation so stark by its absence under Alan Pardew, who was sacked at the beginning of the month.
The Albion board may want a more experienced hand at the tiller next season, while the fans will probably crave a bigger name in management terms.
However, Moore has done his reputation no harm whatsoever as his players produced a performance which married commitment with tactical discipline.
When asked if he wanted to be the next Albion boss, Moore said he was “just focusing on the team and performances”.
West Brom finished with their backs to the wall but had chances of their own, and Jake Livermore had earlier tested David De Gea with arguably the best opportunity before the break.
This was West Brom’s first league away win in 16 attempts and ended a 12-match streak without a victory – a run which included 11 straight defeats.
It also emphasises how misguided the appointment of Pardew now appears.
If Moore was able to coax such a performance out of these players, then what could he, or an alternative choice, have done with more time?
Another miserable day for Pogba
Paul Pogba’s two goals against City felt like a defining moment for the France midfielder during a season which has had more downs than ups.
However, United’s record £89m signing followed it up with a underwhelming display on the left of midfield in a 4-3-3 system.
Pogba was substituted by Mourinho in the 58th minute and the player departed proceedings with an air of resignation rather than annoyance at the decision.
It will inevitably lead to more questions over whether Pogba and United are such a good fit, given the sense he has yet to fully display his ability on a consistent basis.
Mourinho was asked whether he took off Pogba because he had a yellow card and was at risk of getting sent off.
The Portuguese gave a cryptic one-word response: “Also.”
Man of the match – Ben Foster (West Brom)
‘The players expressed themselves’ – what they said
West Brom caretaker boss Darren Moore: “We played against a really formidable team today, asked a lot of questions, but everyone worked hard and did their jobs.
“I’m proud for players and staff and way they have acquitted themselves today.
“I want the players to express themselves, show the outside world what good players they are. I am pleased we managed to show everyone that.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho: “I won eight titles and I am not on the moon because I won against Manchester City.
“I saw lots of people on the moon because we won against City. You could see the difference in the attitude to players compared to last week.
“We deserve to be punished, but the defeat was too heavy.”
Old Trafford’s title record – the stats
- This was the fifth season in which the Premier League title was decided at Old Trafford – more than any other ground in the competition.
- West Brom have lost one of their past five Premier League visits to Old Trafford (W3 D1 L1)
- This was just the second time in Premier League history that United have lost at home to a side starting that day as the bottom club.
- Darren Moore has taken two matches to equal Alan Pardew’s total number of Premier League wins (one in 18 games) as West Brom manager.
- Moore has led Albion to four points in his two games as caretaker boss – the same tally of points Alan Pardew secured in his final 11 league games in charge.
- Jay Rodriguez has scored three goals in his past four Premier League appearances – as many as he did in his previous 26 combined.
Manchester United visit Bournemouth in the Premier League for a 19:45 BST kick-off on Wednesday. They then have an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday (17:15). West Brom host in-form Liverpool in Saturday’s early Premier League match (12:30).