'Out and out winner' Jose Mourinho will make Manchester United title challengers next season, says Tony Pulis

Tim Rich
The Independent
Tony Pulis believes Manchester United have what it takes to challenge next season: Getty
Tony Pulis believes Manchester United have what it takes to challenge next season: Getty

Despite seeing his West Bromwich Albion side become the eighth team to draw at Old Trafford this season, Tony Pulis would not bet against Manchester United becoming champions in 2018. Pulis, who is close to Jose Mourinho, also believes the United manager would walk away from the club if he felt he could not make them into title contenders.

Mourinho’s anger at Saturday’s goalless draw with West Brom was such that he was openly advocating winning the Europa League as a better route to qualifying for the Champions League than finishing in the Premier League’s top four.

However, had those eight games been won, as they should have been, Manchester United would be level on points with Chelsea with a game in hand, rather than 16 points off the summit. It is that upon which Pulis bases his assessment of Manchester United under Mourinho.

“He is a winner. It will stick in his craw that they are not there at the moment,” said the West Brom manager. “He is just an out-and-out winner. He’s relentless and he’ll do it. I’m convinced he will get a team here who will eventually win the championship.

“He will add more than just a cutting edge. I really do think he will go out and get three or four top, top players again. The group will be much stronger next season. That’s the way he is. I don’t think he will hang around unless he thinks he can win it.”

West Brom played a dangerous and very skilful game. They were set up for a goalless draw from the start but Pulis recognised that had Manchester United scored early on it would have been very difficult for his players to change their game.

“United have needed a little bit of luck,” he said. “If they score, they make it so difficult against us. We watched three games before coming here. I think in the Bournemouth game they could have been four up after 15 minutes and ended up drawing. They need a bit of good luck.

"But one thing I will say is that I wouldn’t bet against this club winning the league next year. I really do feel he will get it right. It may not be this year but it will be next.”

Jonny Evans, who had played seven years at Old Trafford and co-ordinated West Brom’s rearguard action, argued that this had been their hardest away game of the season. West Brom have lost narrowly at Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal but were thrashed 4-0 at Tottenham in January.

“This was the toughest in terms of physical demands,” Evans said of the point at Old Trafford. “It is still a daunting place to come. I noticed that coming here our concentration levels went through the roof.

“You could feel the tension and the anticipation for this game. It is still the biggest away game of the season and always will be. Being at Manchester United for a long time, you realise that every week teams raise their game here.

“It was one of the first things Darren Fletcher (who made the same move from Old Trafford to the Hawthornes) said to me when he left. There is a lot of pressure on the United lads here.

“It is obviously the biggest and best stadium in the country and it is the biggest team in the country so there is an added pressure than goes with that.”

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