Mourinho Says United Can Win Title As Ibrahimovic Talks Continue

Mourinho Says United Can Win Title As Ibrahimovic Talks Continue
August 12 13:02 2017 Print This Article

José Mourinho believes Manchester United can win the title, despite starting the season at a similar level to last summer – with the arrivals of Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof offset by injuries to Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young.

United play West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday and Mourinho has all his new signings available but is without last season’s top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede suffered a serious knee injury in April and is out of contract.

United finished sixth last season but did qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League. Asked about their ambitions, Mourinho said: “Yes we can win [the Premier League]. The Champions League is obviously more difficult. But also the motivation is higher. My work last season to face teams in the Europa League with commitment was hard, this season it is not hard to motivate for playing Real Madrid, Barcelona, the top English teams, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

“In the Premier League I’d say seven teams will fight for the title and 20 fight for the victory in every game, every match. That’s different to the three other leagues [Portugal, Italy and Spain] I have worked in. Every opponent wants to win every match, every opponent gives you a hard time.”

Despite having signed Lindelof, Lukaku and Matic, Mourinho wants a fourth addition in a wide position but will not complain if that does not happen. “I was thinking of four players but I am not a difficult person to work with, even if it looks different, or you want to make it look so,” he said. “I understand the reality of the market, of the numbers. My club is doing 75% of what I initially asked very well. I don’t think I am in a position of moaning, crying, contesting or saying I am not happy.”

On the prospect of re-signing Ibrahimovic once the 35-year-old striker has recovered, Mourinho said: “We are having conversations and discussing the possibility of him staying for the second part of the season.”

 

The manager admits United’s lack of goals from players other than Ibrahimovic at No9 caused “trouble” last season. “The challenge is to win more matches than we did, by scoring more or conceding less, I don’t know. [We] lost only one match at home and in cups never lost, but too many draws. It would have been better to lose two or three but win three or four more and then have six or eight more points and then a different position in the table. We had lots of dominance at home, lots of chances, lots when the match should be two or three nil2-0 or 3-0 and in the end was 1-1.

“What I had in other clubs was more players scoring goals, what we had was midfield, wingers scoring, central defenders scoring goals at set pieces. We always had more goals with the winger, the midfielder getting 10 goals, central defender getting five goals and last season that didn’t happen much. We were focused on strikers scoring goals and when it didn’t happen we were in trouble.”

 

Last season Chelsea, who became champions, and Liverpool, who finished fourth, did not have European football to contend with. United were in the Europa League, which they won and so will play in the European Cup this year. Mourinho believes that as all of the teams who placed 1-to-7 are in Europe this time it will even the league out.

“The top seven are all in Europe,” the 54-year-old said. “Last season two were not. This time we are all in the same basket and it will be the same for everybody. Some okay have the luck to play Tuesday or Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, but in the end the same number of matches. There is no advantage for anyone.”

Mourinho has claimed the championship at all of his previous clubs he has led in a second season. But this does not mean he will necessarily repeat the feat. “It’s not because I have always done it that I am going to do it,” he said.

“There’s no guarantee because I always do. I just think naturally a manger in the second season knows the club and players better. Not the league [in my case] because I have been in it a long time. We are just in a position to do quality work better than in the first. It’s not just hope – I’m convinced that the quality of the team will be better, I have conditions to deliver a better one than the first. If that means results and title then [good].”

 

[Guardian UK]

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