On the back of Saturday’s disappointing goalless draw against Burnley and with a touchline boycott approaching at Swansea this weekend, any trusts the United manager had of a confidence boosting win in Istanbul were quickly smothered.
Moussa Sow’s unbelievable overhead kick following 65 seconds gave Fenerbahce a lead that Jeremain Lens, on advance from Sunderland, stretched out with a heavenly second-half free-kick.
Wayne Rooney superbly pulled one back late on – equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 38-goal record as United’s all-time European top scorer – but a frantic final few minutes was unable to prevent a 2-1 loss.
Mourinho pulled no punches in his post-match assessment, telling BT Sport: “Our problem started in our global attitude.
“They (Fenerbahce) were playing the Champions League final and we were playing a summer friendly. That is the reality of the way the game started.”
This was always going to be a far cry from United’s 4-1 win over Fenerbahce at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, but they froze in front of the baying Sukru Saracoglu Stadium crowd.
“What disappointed me more is that I have quite a big experience of playing against Turkish teams,” Mourinho, who lost Paul Pogba to injury after 30 minutes, said in the post-match press conference.
“I played twice with Real Madrid and twice with Chelsea, I played with Porto too, so I pass to the players all my experience.
“And my experience is that when you play against them in our home, it’s easy. It’s always 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, it’s easy.
“You come to Turkey and it is completely different story, so I told them to wait for that, told them not to be focused on the easy game we had at Old Trafford and to be ready for a completely different game.
“We started the game sleeping. I know that we have a problem and especially away from home, it’s difficult to play without two proper central defenders.
“Football play starts with goalkeeper, two strong central defenders. We are playing with two left-backs (Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo) as central defenders and poor Blind is even having to play central defender on the right, which is even more complicated.
“So I think at this moment we lack that structure there, but they start 100 miles per hour and we start really slowly.
“They had the kick-off, they go immediately, the referee gives a free-kick. They take the free-kick in a fast way, we are sleeping, we don’t react. Then it’s a ball in the other side, we lose the second ball. Then the cross is coming, we don’t mark Sow in the box and then the game is a different story.
“Then they are where they want to be. They are in front, then they can control the game, they can defend with a lot of bodies, they can wait for counter-attacks. They can simulate a few fouls, put some pressure on the referee, stop the game, win time, provoke some conflicts.
“But it is not their fault, it is our fault that we let them be 1-0 in front.
“Then obviously when you are losing 2-0, the players had a reaction and they tried and probably they could (have equalised).
The result sees Fenerbahce usurp United in the Group A standings, but Mourinho remains confident his side will qualify.
Such predictions meant little to fo rmer Sunderland and Rangers boss Dick Advocaat, who was enjoying the moment after leading his side to victory.
“Well, it is always a big difference if you play away or at home,” the Fenerbahce manger said.
“Even at Manchester, the first half hour we did really well, then they had two penalties within five minutes
“We know that they like to move inside with the wingers and it means if we close that defensively they cannot find space in-between.
“Attacking-wise with the players we have up front, that still gives them a lot of problem.
“You need a little bit of luck to come through but we did well defensively.
“When we had the ball, we were not afraid to attack. We scored two goals but could even have scored four or five.”