Jose Mourinho admitted toothless Manchester United could have played for 10 hours without scoring in their surprise 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Sunday.
Mourinho’s lacklustre side were beaten by Matt Ritchie’s 65th minute strike, but they rarely looked like taking all three points against the Premier League strugglers.
United are now 16 points behind leaders Manchester United after their second defeat in their last three league games.
Conceding United could have no complaints about the result, Mourinho said: “My verdict is that we could’ve been here for 10 hours and not scored a goal.
“Newcastle played with their lives and defended with their lives.
“They got from us a defensive mistake and from a free-kick they scored. The gods of football were clearly on their side.
“They must have an amazing feeling after giving absolutely everything.”
Ritchie’s goal came from a free-kick awarded for a needless dive by United defender Chris Smalling inside his own half.
But Mourinho wasn’t critical of his centre-back’s mistake.
“A defender has to concede free-kicks now and again. It was an intuitive thing,” he said.
“Players who do it in the box deserve a card more than Smalling in that situation.
“Clearly I know we lost the duel in the air and it’s difficult to accept that.”
United squandered the few chances they created, leaving Mourinho frustrated as his team’s faint title hopes suffered another blow.
“We had some chances with the score at 0-0. Alexis (Sanchez) had an open goal and then the countless opportunities of the last 20-25 minutes,” he said.
“The double miss of (Anthony) Martial is incredible in the last minute.”