Jose Mourinho gave his first press conference of the pre-season ahead of Manchester United’s first game of the US Tour against LA Galaxy.
The Red Devils play at the StubHub Center on Saturday as they kick-off a busy couple of weeks in the USA and Europe as they look to get back in good shape for the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Mourinho gave a brief update on United’s transfer business, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Matic, Lukaku among other related topics after revealing earlier this week that both the goalkeepers De Gea and Joel Pereira will play 45 minutes each against the MLS side and the goalkeeper rotation policy involving the three goalkeepers, the other being Sergio Romero, will be in tact throughout the tour.
Let’s take a look at the main talking points from the press conference:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could stay :
Mourinho admitted it was extremely possible that Zlatan could stay for the next season, but insists nothing has been decided as of yet. “Possible, it’s open, of course we wanted to be honest and open and let everything for him to make the decision.
“At the same time let’s make a decision that makes us all happy and if that is for him to stay and for us to wait, let’s say in December maybe, because I don’t think before December he can get back to competitive football but why not wait for a player who gave us so much, we are changing ideas and it’s with Mr Woodward and Zlatan’s agent but the final deicision is the best for the player.”
Looks like United fans is likely to be treated to part 2 of the Zlatan Ibrahimovic story.
On United’s further Transfer Business :
Asked about Matic, Mourinho said : “I can’t say any word about a player who is a Chelsea player, it’s the same with Morata, we have to respect the player, the club, the owner, the manager.
I don’t want to be disrespectful, we don’t have our door closed, we are not happy with just Lukaku and Lindelof, we need more, we wanted four, so I would say 50% of the job is done but I don’t want to say that because everything is so difficult.
I would not like to be in Ed Woodward’s position negotiating because everything is really difficult, so maybe we don’t get two, we get one but we need one more to give us more options.
We have players that belong to the squad but cannot play for next few months, Rojo, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, if Zlatan stays. “We need two more players I would say, at least one but I don’t want to say Matic or any other name because I don’t think it’s correct.” Safe to say Mourinho and United is not done yet.
On rivalries this season :
Mourinho has not shied away from taking another poke at the top 6 teams of the previous season.
“First of all I think after the champion, Chelsea, I think Manchester United is the second club that we can say most successful last season and Arsenal the third, for me that’s absolutely clear, to finish second, third or fourth is like being… because there is only one winner.
“Arsenal won a competition, we won two-and-a-half, I like to say, so the other clubs won nothing so they have to improve.”
On the Premier League :
“Every club in the Premier League is powerful, has money to buy, to refuse to sell, and people don’t focus on the power to keep the players and refuse to sell.
I think the market is so strange, the prices are absolutely out of context, so the clubs with not the power to sell, refuse to sell, are one step ahead and there are many clubs in the Premier League who refuse to sell their best players and that is fantastic and makes the competition so hard.
Every match is a difficult match, in every match you have the risk to lose and that’s why the Premier League is the Premier League.”
He might have made this comment in reference to the Matic situation.
On Lukaku’s impact at the club :
Mourinho had nothing but praise for the Belgian striker who made the move to United last week .
“Hopefully goals, he’s the kind of player that everybody knows he’s a striker so we’re not speaking about a multi functional player or create doubts about positions on the pitch, he’s a strier and normally strikers score goals.
The reason why he was so important and difficult to get is what he did in the Premier League because obviously there are other good strikers in football but the Premier League is a very specific habitat, a different habitat, normally they need some time to adapt and Lukaku plays in Premier League for the last four or five seasons.”
Mourinho told the journalists. “So now he comes to a club with a different responsibility than Everton or West brom, and I think he comes in the right moment because he is young but still has years of experience with the Premier League and Belgian national team, it’s his first Champions League competition which was his main motivation so the fact we qualified also played an important role.” He further added .
On his relationship with Lukaku :
Mourinho insists he has a wonderful relationship with Lukaku. When asked if he had any role in bringing Lukaku to Old Trafford, he said “I didn’t negotiate, it was Mr Woodward who negotiated with Romelu, his agent and the Everton board, the only thing I did was to call him when the situation was almost there just to guarantee him that he would be an important player in my team.
It’s quite a great experience the fact we worked together already for a few months and during the time when I was at Chelsea and when he was at Everton our relationship was always very close despite it not working well for us together.
He’s intelligent, he’s polite, we kept the contact, the feeling and now we are back together in different moments and I have no doubts it is going to work.”
On why United States :
“Pre-season is a mixture of factors, ingredients, if you stay in Manchester the facilities are good, we are at home but commercially is not good and that is another really important fact for the players to be together 24 hours for two and a half weeks and welcome to the new people, try to make them adapt as soon as possible.
Here we have everything, the facilities are very good, the organisation is very good, it’s not chaotic, still since 2004 I’m searching for the first mistake, it never arrives.
It’s amazing, the players like to come to here, by the social point of view it’s good because this country gives us soccer people freedom, they can walk outside, sit some place and have a drink together, they can go shopping and have a little social life.”
“Opponents are good because American teams are in the middle of their competition, so it’s good to have tired people against fresh people, they will play at a higher speed and intensity plus altitude in Salt Lake City is a different factor for us and then we train against some of the best clubs in the world.
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Against some of the best players in the world and that’s good for us going back into the Champions League, a diff reality to the Europa League, which is very difficult to win but in the Champions League we are going to find the four or five best teams in the world and in Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona we are going to get that.” he also added.
On Morata :
Mourinho admitted that United were interested in the Spanish striker, but the clubs could not come to an economical agreement , Real wanted 79 million pounds for the striker while United valued the striker at 65 million, which resulted in United pulling out of the race and instead opting to spend 75 million pounds on Lukaku.
“I don’t like to speak about players who aren’t ours, because Morata is not our player. I am nobody to speak about players from Real Madrid. Yes, we have had interest, that is obvious and it’s public. We have not come to an economic agreement, that is obvious as well. But it’s a Real Madrid’s right to ask for their players the amount of money that they want.
We do not determine what the price is of a player of Real Madrid, Real Madrid do that. And we didn’t arrive at an agreement with Real Madrid. I do not criticise Madrid and I am not going to criticise my board because my board has made the offer, and they have tried to reach an agreement during a time, and they didn’t come to an agreement. It’s simple.”
(Courtesy the MUTV )