Slaven Bilic believes Jose Mourinho only got into trouble with the FA because he caught the water bottle at Old Trafford too well.
Manchester United manager Mourinho was sent to the stands during the 1-1 draw against Bilic’s West Ham on Sunday after showing his frustration at the decision to book Paul Pogba for a dive.
Mourinho did not make the grade as a player, yet his technique was flawless as he swung his right foot and launched the plastic bottle along the touchline to earn his marching orders.
And Hammers boss Bilic smiled: “The problem is he hit that bottle like - well it was a great volley, to be fair. He should have miskicked it! He hit it too good.”
Pogba went down after a challenge by West Ham skipper Mark Noble, with replays showing the Hammers midfielder did not touch the France midfielder. But Bilic added: “Why I have sympathy with him is that situation with Pogba, it really looked from our angle - and he was close to me - it didn’t look like a dive. It was obvious, and it was a great decision from the referee. But from our point it did not look like a dive.”
Bilic cuts a far more placid figure on the touchline than the likes of Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp or Antonio Conte, but he has still fallen foul of officials in the past. The Croatian recalled: “I was sent off once in a game against Arsenal when I managed Besiktas, in the last minute of the game. I gesticulated too much, but the referee was Serbian so he understood me! I apologised after the game.”
Bilic will be back alongside Mourinho at Old Trafford tonight as the sides lock horns again, this time in the EFL Cup. He is set to hand a chance to some of the summer signings, such as Sofiane Feghouli, Havard Nordtveit and Ashley Fletcher, who have so far failed to have an impact with the Hammers.
“We are going to try the ones who showed a good mentality, good training, good quality and good fitness,” Bilic said. “It’s a big chance for them.”
Meanwhile Ander Herrera has welcomed tonight’s game as a chance to kick-start United’s season. Following Sunday’s 1-1 draw, United have statistically made their worst start to a league season for 27 years with just 20 points from 13 games. But United were dominant against the Londoners, for whom Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph was a clear man of the match, and midfielder Herrera says the corner will soon be turned.
The Spaniard said of the midweek rematch: “It’s very important, every game is. We want to turn the luck in the next game and the next game is League Cup. It doesn’t matter the competition, it doesn’t matter the game, we just want to win.
“We just want to fight for everything and we want to make our fans proud. I don’t know what I can say to them. Sunday was a very tough day for all of us but I think they can be proud of the way we are playing and the passion we are playing with. It is unbelievable we are not winning games.”
United will be without Pogba, who collected his fifth booking of the season on Sunday in the incident which led to Mourinho being sent to the stands for the second time this season.
There is a positive storyline in prospect for United, however, as captain Wayne Rooney goes into the game one short of equalling Bobby Charlton’s club record goal tally of 249.
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