Jose Mourinho: I would never have sold Angel di Maria, Chicharito or Danny Welbeck

James Ducker
Jose Mourinho says he would never have sold Angel Di Maria, Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck - PA Wire/PA Images

Jose Mourinho has said he would never have sold Angel di Maria, Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck, or signed some of the players his predecessors did, as the Manchester United manager claimed he inherited a “sad club” that is not yet “ready to be Manchester United, to be a dominant force”.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Premier League Show, which airs on BBC2 on Thursday night, Mourinho admits he cannot understand why United bought and sold some of the players they did and warned “there is a space between the general ambition of such a giant club and what we are in reality”.

Asked if United are bigger than Real Madrid and Inter Milan, two of the previous clubs he managed, Mourinho said: “I am not saying bigger. It was easier to get the objectives at the other clubs than here. I found a sad club [here]. Man Utd sold players that I would never sell, bought players that I would never buy. I would never sell Di Maria, Chicharito [Hernandez], Danny Welbeck. Never. No chance.

Angel di Maria was sold to PSG Credit: REUTERS

“I am enjoying every moment of it. It is hard. It is difficult, but I knew that before. Manchester United has a name and a prestige and something magical in football that attracts everyone.

“The relation between our true potential and the expectations we create, there is a gap. We are not ready to be Manchester United. We are not ready to be a dominant force. We are not ready to try and win everything.

“Because of the nature of the club, and of myself, we are ready to fight for every game, every point, of that there is no doubt. But there is a space between the general ambition of such a giant club and what we are in reality.”

Time since Man Utd last won a major trophy

Reiterating his desire to stay beyond his existing contract, which runs until June 2019 with the option of a fourth year, Mourinho warned United fans that the days of the club dominating the English football landscape, like they did under Sir Alex Ferguson, are over.

“Forget it, it is not possible, don’t try to go 10, 20 years ago because it is not possible any more,” Mourinho said, in reference to Ferguson’s 13 titles. “I have many, many doubts that dominance is going to get back to the Premier League. So win titles, try to get back to the Champions League, win in Europe, but the base has to be the empathy with the fans. That is based on the quality of our football.”

On his own future, Mourinho said: “I’d like to [stay], I am really happy. I will stay here until the owners and the board don’t want me.”

Jose Mourinho insists he is happy at Old Trafford Credit: EPA

Mourinho is adamant failure to qualify for the Champions League would have no bearing on their ability to recruit the best players. United are in pole position to sign Antoine Griezmann, the France forward, from Atletico Madrid for £85 million this summer.

“Man Utd is very powerful,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be in the Champions League to attract the best players. Last summer, we got players who could be playing in the Champions League. Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] could be in Paris [with PSG], [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan could be in Borussia [Dortmund]. [Paul] Pogba could be at Juve. We were able to attract the players because they know Manchester United sooner or later will get there. If any player decides not to come because of that I am happy that they are not coming.

“I don’t [want to be in the Europa League next season] but I prefer to be in the Europa League than not in Europe. If we don’t play Champions League, we play Europa League and we have to try and win it.”

Paul Pogba has struggled for consistency Credit: REX FEATURES

Mourinho believes Pogba needs time to readjust to English football but is unsurprised by Ibrahimovic’s success.

“It isn’t easy for Pogba,” he said. “The country is so different than Italian football. It is hard for him. I’m not disappointed at all. The most important thing is his personality. He is professional, he will improve for sure.

“Zlatan is not a surprise for me. I know the personality, I know the body, I know the ambition that brought him here. Could he do it in the best league in the world? He has done it everywhere else. He’s doing amazingly well.”

Mourinho – who said it is “impossible” to keep players who are not playing happy - believes United are headed in the right direction under his management, having won the League Cup and Community Shield this term, but he has told his squad they must be more ruthless in front of goal.

“Many other teams in England are going to finish the season without a trophy and we have one-and-a-half which is good,” he said. “But we have to fight for the top four, we have to fight for the Champions League. The League Cup is not enough to say that the season is over at the end of February.

“I try always to get the best out of my players and get the team to play the way that suits them and the way we can get the best out of them. We normally dominate matches, have the ball, create a lot of chances. But we need to kill matches and kill opponents. If you don’t kill, you are killed.

“I won so many matches and titles in my career the other way round, being safe, being in control and waiting for the mistake. I bite you, goodbye. Now we have to kill matches to have the complete pleasure. We are missing this.

“[Losing] affects my mood always. But I have found a certain balance. After a bad result at home would I make a joke 10 years ago? I don’t think so. But I have changed. I change but I keep my nature and that is [with] a bad result you are not happy.”

 

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