Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat down with the media ahead of Friday’s Premier League clash with Southampton at Old Trafford. United started the season well with a 2-1 victory over champions Leicester City in the FA Community Shield nearly a fortnight ago, following that up with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth last weekend, starting the season in winning fashion for the Red Devils. Mourinho and his squad will be looking to continue that for on Friday night at Old Trafford, cashing Claude Puel’s Southampton to remain unbeaten. Paul Pogba, United world record signing was unable to face Bournemouth at the weekend due to being suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards in the Coppa Italia last season. The manager insists that he is fit to face Southampton, which will be something many have been waiting for, for the last four years no doubt. Here are the main points from the press conference:
Jose Mourinho on Paul Pogba’s fitness and how he has settled in after his return to Manchester United:
“We played against Leicester with players with less training than him and we saw that match as a way to improve them. With Paul it’s a bit the same – not one single minute of any pre-season match but almost two weeks of work with us, sometimes with the group, sometimes separately, and the condition is okay to play some minutes.
“He has adapted really easily because he knows the club, knows everybody. He has no need to have time to adapt, but he’ll need time to build his condition and his understanding of how the team plays and how he’ll fit in with that.”
Mourinho on how Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken to life at the Old Trafford club:
“I see him happy. I ask about his family, his wife, his kids – I know how important these things are to him – integration, house and everything is fine and everybody is happy. He has a very high motivation, so I see him here, no doubts, for the next two years.”
Mourinho on the surprise after Eric Bailly seems to have started well this season:
“He is a young boy playing in a completely different competition with a different club, but despite all the pressure and expectation that comes with playing for United, he plays against Leicester at Wembley and is comfortable, leading and communicative.”
Mourinho when asked about the Old Trafford fear factor making a return:
“Not me, but the team, yes. The fans can also help. Everything starts there: the relationship between the team and the fans. If there is a connection then the factor of being really strong at home has to back. The way we play [will help] and if the fans play [a part] there’ll be no chance for the opponent.”
Mourinho when asked if he will be making any further signings this summer:
“The market is open until 31 August, but I am very happy with the players I have. I keep saying that I don’t talk about players from other clubs.”
Manchester United are in good shape right now. Winning their first two matches of the season; FA Community Shield 2-1 against Leicester City and their Premier League opener, 3-1 away to Bournemouth. Continuing this run against Southampton at Old Trafford could state their case to the club’s rivals. Mourinho was asked if the fear factor could come back to Old Trafford, and he said yes but it will be because of his team, not him, which seems like a good comment to make. Paul Pogba is fit to face Southampton, making his second debut for the Old Trafford club. Chris Smalling is also fit, but could face a problem getting back into the team as both Eric Bailly and Daley Blind have played well together, with Bailly taking his chance to impress the manager, his teammates, and the club’s supporters.
Mourinho was asked if he will be making any more signings this summer after bringing Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba to the club this summer, with a few players, namely Jose Fonte, Gabriel Barbosa and Fabinho linked to the club in recent weeks. The manager did not give any indication as to whether he would be making some more signings, just stating that the window closes on the 31st August, less than two weeks away, so I guess we will see what happens. United seem to be a better team this season, the play has improved but is still in its early days yet. I am sure the players will be more determined to get back to where they once were this season, after three seasons out of it all. The sleeping dragon seems to have awakened.