Mourinho reluctant to be drawn on United’s title prospects
Manager still concerned over the lingering effects of World Cup action on his squad
Jose Mourinho: “Against Leicester and Brighton the situation is not amazing for us.” Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
José Mourinho has refused to be drawn on whether Manchester United can challenge for the title without further additions to his squad.
Mourinho stated on Monday that he wants two new signings having so far brought in Fred, a midfielder for €62 million, and Diogo Dalot, a full-back for €21 million, during the summer.
Asked if United’s existing squad is good enough to be title contenders, the manager said: “I don’t answer to your question.”
That response came after the Portuguese offered a downbeat assessment of United’s pre-season tour of the US – they face Milan here on Thursday – due to a high number of his frontline players missing due to post-World Cup breaks.
Mourinho believes this may hamper his side before their Premier League campaign, which begins against Leicester at Old Trafford on August 10th.
He was reluctant to concede that some of United’s rivals also have key personnel away on holiday, saying: “If you look to the players that Chelsea and Liverpool have [available] in the pre-season, especially these two teams, also Arsenal – if you compare, you see the difference of the situation.
“Manchester City and Tottenham are in a similar situation as we are but you can see that some other clubs are in a different situation. The first match of the season is against Leicester and the second one is against Brighton and I look to Leicester, if I’m not wrong, only [Maguire] and [Jamie} Vardy were in the World Cup in the final phase, because [Kasper] Schmeichel was back sooner.
“So a team working for six weeks minimum with all the players except one defender and one striker that can join in the last weekend and probably be available; this is clear it’s a much better situation for them.”
He added: “When I look to Brighton, I don’t think they have any player that isn’t doing a very good pre-season with lots of training and matches. So against Leicester and Brighton the situation is not amazing for us. I would say third match, playing against a team [Tottenham] a similar situation as us, so after three weeks it is okay. But for the first two matches we have to fight for the points, so that is what we are going to do with the players available.”
Marcos Rojo is one player who may not join up with Mourinho’s squad in the US.
“I don’t know, he’s with the medical department, in contact since the World Cup, where he had some physical problem,” confirmed the manager. “The medical department has to make a decision if he join us or if he goes to Manchester for recovery.”
Regarding his major purchase of the summer so far, Mourinho added: “Fred is a technical player and having him in the squad, people like [Nemanja] Matic, [Marouane] Fellaini, [Paul] Pogba, even Ander [Herrera] are physical, strong.
“We think a player like Fred, Andreas Pereira, are more technical, more quality of passing, playing in short spaces, maybe connect with the attacking players, we thought that he could be an important player for us.”