José Mourinho: Alexis Sánchez can cope with the pressure
Manchester United’s new signing won’t be fazed facing Tottenham at Wembley
José Mourinho is not planning on signing any more attacking players for Manchester United having captured Alexis Sanchez. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters
As a former Arsenal player Alexis Sánchez is likely to be booed when he steps out for Manchester United against Tottenham at Wembley Wednesday evening but José Mourinho is confident his new signing can cope with any rough reception he might receive in England.
“The story has gone round that he is on one of the top salaries in the Premier League so he is going to get a little bit of attention wherever he goes,” the United manager said. “I don’t think he cares, though. I think he’s used to it. I don’t think it is easy for him when Chile play in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay but that is what he has grown up with. He’s an experienced professional. Crowd reaction isn’t going to be a problem for him.”
The sort of money Manchester United are paying him means Sánchez can expect to be selected for most games, especially those against top-four rivals, though Mourinho does not believe his presence will be detrimental to Marcus Rashford’s time on the pitch and long-term development. Jamie Redknapp has suggested the 20-year-old striker might have to go somewhere else to get the games necessary to further his career, yet Mourinho says he can and will progress at Old Trafford.
“Marcus’s story is quite interesting because he started playing under Mr Van Gaal when the team was in trouble and short of options,” Mourinho said. “Then the monster that kills the little kids arrived and everyone said he would not appear in the first team. In fact he has played every game since then, either starting or coming from the bench. He has played as a striker, as a left winger and a right winger and he has gone to the national team.
“The kid is having a hell of an experience at every level. An amazing future awaits him and being surrounded by top players can only help him. The whole story of Marcus not getting minutes and matches is really tired because he’s a very important player for us.”
Mourinho is now happy with his forward line. He will probably look to strengthen midfield in the summer with Michael Carrick retiring and Marouane Fellaini coming to terms with life as a squad player, but he sees no need to bring in new attacking players nor can he imagine where he might look for reinforcements.
“I think in attack it is now difficult for us to improve,” he said. “Where are we going to get a better combination of players than we have? We cannot buy Messi, we cannot buy Cristiano Ronaldo – these are the best players of the last decade. Other than those two where can we get better players than Mata, Martial, Lingard, Rashford, Alexis and Lukaku? In that department we have an amazing group of players.”
Juan Mata is the oldest of that half-dozen, by a few months from Sánchez, and was not expected to last long under Mourinho because the same manager moved him out of Chelsea four years ago. In fact the 29-year-old has just signed a new contract extension at United, giving his manager another excuse to point out that the reputation that precedes him does not always stand up to scrutiny.
“The big story when I arrived one and half years ago was that Mata was in trouble, in trouble, in trouble,” Mourinho said. “Now he’s getting an extension of one more year. He is an important player. Important for me, for the club and to all the other players.”
Meanwhile Tottenham have been handed a triple injury boost ahead of the game against United on Wednesday.
Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris are all back in contention for the match at Wembley but Toby Alderweireld is not available.
Eriksen and Lloris have both recovered from illness while Rose has overcome a knee problem.
Alderweireld has returned to training after three months out with a hamstring injury but Pochettino does not yet consider him ready for competitive action.
Pochettino also refused to be drawn on the club’s potential move for Paris St Germain forward Lucas Moura.
“The club will communicate when something happens,” Pochettino said.
He was also tight-lipped when asked about the future of Fernando Llorente, who has been linked with a January switch to Chelsea.
“That is another rumour,” Pochettino said. “Nando is our player. I don’t know anything about that.”
Harry Winks remains out with an ankle injury and Serge Aurier is also sidelined with a calf problem.