On Tuesday, Jose Mourinho was unveiled as Manchester United manager. In his first press conference at the club, the Portuguese spoke about his plans and the changes he intends on implementing to bring back immediate success.
Jose Mourinho’s press conferences are always a sight to behold. The snide responses to certain questions, the element of surprise, and the constant bickering of compatriots, always make Mourinho’s interactions interesting. He isn’t one to hold back, and believes in speaking out his mind.
It was much of the same when Manchester United unveiled the Portuguese as their new manager. The announcement was made more than a month ago, but this was the first time the club held a press conference for the new man in charge.
TheHardTackle cites ten takeaways from his first press interaction after taking over the reins from Louis van Gaal:
Manchester United is not a dream job
When questioned about his famous “Happy One” and “Special One” comments, Mourinho said he was used to this, and doesn’t find the job any different. The United boss stated:
“I don’t know. The other two times I arrived in the country, were different. I was sacked by Chelsea and then I stayed in the same country with the same faces. This is nothing new. I have arrived into a club that is difficult to describe… I don’t like the nomination that this is the dream job. This is reality and the reality is that this is the job that everyone wants.”
Frustrated by the absence of Champions League football
The 2015/16 season was disappointing in many ways for Manchester United, and a one that their fans would like to forget. An early exit from the Champions League and Capital One Cup was coupled with a defensive brand of football in the Premier League. A 5th placed finish did not gel well with the Old Trafford faithful, but Mourinho as well is facing the repercussions of missing out on the competition he loves dearly.
“This challenge does not make me nervous, it comes at the right time in my career. I’m a bit frustrated that I am not playing Champions League. Hopefully it is only one season we are not there.”
“Manchester United is a Champions League club. In July 2017, instead of waiting for Europa League play-offs, we make sure this club is where it is meant to be – the Champions League.”
Aware of the expectations from the fans
At the end of this past season, former United boss Louis van Gaal was quoted saying, “The fans are expecting a lot. But I think these expectations are much too high, and we are a team in transition, and that I have said when I started here.”
However, Jose Mourinho isn’t one to hide from his responsibilities, and wants the fans and players to forget about the post-Ferguson era.
“It’s a job everyone wants and not many have, and I have it. I know what the fans expect from me.”
“For United fans success was routine, I want the players to forget the last few years. Because what is to do better? To finish fourth? I am 53, I am a very young manager. If I am not going for big challenges then I am in trouble. The reality is that I was in trouble for the last five months. The first month was fine, the second not so good and the rest a disaster,” he added.
Takes a dig at arch-nemesis Arsene Wenger
The Mourinho-Wenger rivalry is one of the most renowned battles of the Premier League era. A feud that began way back in 2005, is still going strong and if Mourinho’s press conference was anything to go by, the fans may be expected to see more of the same in the upcoming season. The Portuguese once termed the Arsenal coach “A specialist in failure“
In Tuesday’s press conference, while stating that he had nothing left to prove, Mourinho took a subtle dig at Arsene Wenger, and his title drought that has lasted over ten years.
“There are some managers who haven’t won titles for 10 years. Some of them never. The last time I won was a year ago. If I have something to prove, imagine the others. That’s my feeling. I feel that I have to prove not to others, but to myself. I would never be able to work without success, that is my nature.”
Hands out list of 49 academy players promoted
Mourinho has often been criticised over the lack of young players being promoted into the main team. It is said that he uses big names to win titles, and neglects the development of the fledglings. So, at the press conference, a journalist asked him about the role the youngsters would play at the club. The Portuguese wasn’t taken aback, and came prepared with a list of 49 players he had promoted from the youth academies at the different clubs he has managed.
He explained, “You know how many young players I have promoted to the first team from academies? I’ve promoted 49 players and two factors are very important in this record.”
“Sometimes you promote players because you have so many injuries you don’t have another choice. You have to bring them up from the academy because you have lots of players that are injured.
“The second factor is when you are not playing to your targets, it is easier to bring them up.”
Boasts about low injury record
The Red Devils were plagued with numerous injuries over the course of a tumultuous second season under van Gaal. These setbacks often saw the Dutchman deploy players in unfavourable positions, and most of the time, the overall rhythm of play would be shaken up, thus affecting the outcome of the match.
Mourinho, on the other hand, has boasted about the treatment he gives his players, so as to keep them fit.
“My record with injuries is very low. Even from the UEFA studies, there were many times my team was the one with the least injuries in the whole of Europe.”
Aims to bring in specialists
In this transfer window, the Red Devils have already roped in two quality players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly. Henrikh Mkhitaryan too, has all but completed a move to the club, and his deal should be finalised within the next few days. Speaking about his transfer activity, Mourinho emphasised on bringing in “specialists rather than multi-functional players.”
The Portuguese stated:
“I don’t know about changes. The third player [Mkhitaryan] will be official soon.”
“I am very clear in my approach and model to play and I need specialists in that. I like one or two multi-functional players because you need them when you are in a bit of trouble.
“I want specialists. We decided four targets. Until we have the fourth, we will be working hard. Myself, the structure, Mr. Woodward, the owners, all of us are working hard on that. When we have the fourth, I breathe, we all breathe. We will not get the fourth on 31st August. We will get it before that and then we are stable.”
What’s the aim in 2016/17?
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 5, 2016
States Giggs wanted the manager’s job
After being involved with the club for 29 years, Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs bid farewell to the Theatre of Dreams. The Welshman retired after the 2014 season, and took over the managerial role after David Moyes’ unceremonious sacking. Giggs served as an assistant under new boss Louis van Gaal, but ever since the Dutch manager was shown the door, his deputy’s days at the club began to recede.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 5, 2016
Mourinho broke the ice on Giggs’ incident, and stated that the Welshman wanted to manage the Red Devils.
“I never run away from my responsibilities. The reality is it is not my responsibility that Ryan is not in the club. The job Ryan wanted is the job the club decided to give me.
“It’s not my fault. Ryan wanted to be manger and the club, for reasons they can tell you, they decided the job was for me. He made a decision where you need to be brave. If one day he wants to be back to the club while I am here, I would never stop him from coming back.”
Speaks about his fruitful relationship with Sir Alex Fergusson
Sir Alex Ferguson decided to call it a day from football when he retired after the title-winning campaign of 2012/13. Since then the Scotsman has had a say in all the major decisions at the club, and was the driving force in bringing in David Moyes as his replacement.
In the conference, Mourinho spoke about the conversations between himself and the former Red Devils manager. “He [Sir Alex] told me to bring a bottle of wine because now we are going to have many occasions to be together. When his holidays are finished, will see a lot of him.”
“He will obviously be welcome to the training ground. We would discuss personal stuff, friends, family, life, and importantly, his opinion matters a lot to me, and so do the opinions of many United legends who are now pundits.”
Rooney will not play a deeper role
Lastly, Mourinho gave an insight about the role his captain Wayne Rooney would play. The Englishman was used in many different positions last season, and even during the Euros, he was deployed as a central midfielder by England head coach Roy Hodgson.
The United boss said: “Maybe he is not a striker any more, maybe he is not a number nine any more, but with me he will never be a number six or somebody who plays 50 meters away from the goal.
“Yes, his pass is amazing, but my pass is also amazing without pressure. To be there, to put the ball in the net, is the most difficult thing you have to find. For me, he will be a number nine, a ten, a nine-and-a-half, but not a six. Not even an eight.
“There is something that will never change, which is the appetite, the natural appetite, to put the ball in the net.”