Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho faced the media today ahead of the side’s Boxing Day encounter with Sunderland – managed by former United boss David Moyes – at Old Trafford.
A full transcript follows below.
You spoke to a lot of people before you decided to come here. Was David Moyes one of those people you decided to speak to?
“No. I didn’t speak to many people and David was not also a person that I asked for. I think when you have Manchester United and you are in another club, maybe you think twice, but when you have Manchester United and you don’t have a club and you’re not working, I don’t think you have a lot to think about. I thought about the difficulty of the job, I tried to answer myself why the club in the past three years was going in – in terms of the results – a difficult direction. I tried to answer myself why but I couldn’t think much about coming to Manchester United, so easy decision.”
When Sir Alex left you were mentioned as one of the people as a possible successor. At that time did you ever think how difficult it would be to directly follow Sir Alex Ferguson?
“Not really. Not really. I was in another club. When I am in a club I just think about the club and I don’t use my time thinking about other things, so not really. What I knew was the evolution of the Premier League, I know the new direction of the Premier League and I knew that periods of domination belong to the past, because the Premier League was going already in an incredible direction and it is what it is now.”
Tony Pulis has said this morning that he has made a bid for Morgan Schneiderlin. You said this week that you wouldn’t keep anybody here if they didn’t want to be here. Has Morgan mentioned anything to you, has he said that he wants to leave?
“Yes. Very professional, fantastic boy. Very honest, very open and opened his heart a couple of times. My answer is simple – if he’s playing regularly with me, I have the right to say ‘no way’. If he’s not playing regularly, I have no right to tell a player that wants to be happy ‘you are going nowhere’. So my answer was if the offer is right and our board thinks that offer is a good offer in relation to the quality of a very good player like Morgan, I would not stop him to go.”
You mentioned a few times about settling in here and how happy you are. Has it surprised you that you have found real happiness here and how does it compare to maybe five, six months at other clubs you’ve gone into?
“I don’t like to compare, honestly. I think you know me, you don’t listen from me many opinions, many stories, even compare my previous clubs. When I leave clubs I close the door, I close a chapter, I wish them good and goodbye. Be happy and I try to be happy too. So I don’t like to go in that direction. What I can say is that in here I felt I meet people with open arms. Not just a very calm and intelligent board and owners, they know what they want, they have big experience already and are very calm, very pragmatic giving me good conditions to work. And in the players and the people that surrounds me I felt some sadness because the people that loves football, they obviously want to be successful and everybody tries to help to go in the same direction.”
You’ve said before that you don’t mind who scores the goals but Zlatan Ibrahimovic now is quite clearly your top goal scorer, I think he’s scored nine more than anyone else. In terms of the pressure on him, would it help him if more people chipped in with more goals, or are you confident that he can handle the pressure?
“There’s no problem for me. I’m really happy for him because maybe some people could think he was a top scorer but not any more with 35 years old, but not any more because the Premier League is not La Ligue. But at 35 for him is the same at 25, in the Premier League he scores goals and he plays well and I’m really happy for him because he will end his career on a high, which is amazing. He is not ending his career in America or in China, he’s ending his career at the top of the top so I’m really, really pleased with him. His record is good, he can improve. With no penalties, which is amazing too because normally the other goals that are top scorers around the world, they score a lot of penalties. He had one penalty in 17 Premier League matches so I couldn’t be happier with him.”
The congestion, the fixture list now – you’re going to need all the bodies back. How are you standing with the likes of Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw? How are they ahead of what is going to be such a busy period now?
“The busy period is for some clubs, not for everyone, because if you analyse the fixtures for some clubs, there is no congestion for them. It looks like the fixtures are chosen to give rest for some and to create problems to others. But we are used to it, because we are in the Europa League and the Europa League is a competition that creates more difficulties. We know that, Southampton knows that, Tottenham will know that later. It’s very difficult, so for us it’s just more of the same. It’s good for us to have everybody available, but Luke Shaw. And he is not far. But central defender position, we have now all of them. Smalling is back, Bailly is back, Jones is fine, Rojo is fine, Blind is fine, so it’s a position where I think it is very important to have some stability in the options. We were in a difficult position a couple of months ago but now we are safe and we know that Bailly is going to the African Cup in January, but for the next three matches we have him.”