Jose Mourinho: Only Pogba at Real and Barca level
Manchester United manager points to Paul Pogba as being at level of elite Spanish clubs
Jose Mourinho: “We prefer not to compare us with them; we prefer to compare with the teams we play week in week out.” Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
José Mourinho believes Paul Pogba is one of the few Manchester United players at the same level as those of Barcelona and Real Madrid, with the manager saying his team are inferior to both Spanish clubs.
United defeated Real 2-1 on penalties in the penultimate match of their summer tour of the US. They then lost 1-0 against Barcelona in the final game on Wednesday, with Neymar scoring on a night when United were constantly overrun by their opponents’ quick pass-and-move game.
Asked if Barcelona were on another level to United, Mourinho said: “Paul Pogba showed the level and he belongs to that level. If you want to compare my team with Real Madrid or Barcelona it’s easy to compare the level of the players. It’s easy but we don’t play in the same competition as them unless we meet them in the European competitions.
“So we prefer not to compare us with them; we prefer to compare with the teams we play week in week out in the Premier League and we are much more adapted to that very hard competition. But it’s a competition with a different style and player.
“I think in this moment the best players are in these two clubs and you have to accept that as a reality but for us to play against both in pre-season without any kind of pressure or being worried about a result and to play the best, you can see was very good for us and both play with their best team. I think only [Gerard] Piqué was on the bench, Real had only Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos who didn’t play.”
Pressed on how far United are from Barcelona and Real’s standard, Mourinho said: “Lionel Messi and Neymar – there is only one Messi and one Neymar – and Luis Suárez, Andrés Iniesta, Piqué, Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos. So they can only be playing for a club not two clubs; we can’t have them, they belong to the clubs. You can be working very hard tactically to improve your players but there are players that are special players and there is nothing you can do.
“You try to compensate the difference in quality with a certain tactical organisation and with that you can win in football. It’s possible a team is on a certain day better than the sum of the parts.
“But the parts are amazing, their relation with the ball is amazing, you can argue about occupation of spaces and speak about all of that. But the relation with the ball is still the most important thing and as an opponent on the bench like I am it is beautiful to see their relation with the ball.”