Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat with the media ahead of the club’s opening Premier League match away to Bournemouth on Sunday. Last season in this fixture, Louis van Gaal’s United side lost 2-1 in what was seen as a shock defeat. This season, United will be looking to put that defeat behind them and starting their new season and another new era on a high. The signing of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba have lifted the club’s spirits ahead of the new season and beating the reigning Premier League champions Leicester City 2-1 at Wembley last Sunday will only raise spirits all the more – the last four matches between the two sides had resulted in a 5-3 defeat and three 1-1 draws. Pogba, the club’s new world record signing will not be eligible to face Bournemouth as he has banned, as is Chris Smalling. He accumulated two yellow cards in the Copa Italia last season, which is carried over to the Premier League. Not that he would have started anyway and now he can make his second debut for the club at Old Trafford in a weeks time against Southampton.
Here are the main points from today’s press conference:
Jose Mourinho on Manchester United’s title aim this season:
“We feel that we are a candidate to win the title. We know that others have the same ambitions as us. If, at the end of the season, somebody who is champion has been better than us, then great – that is football. In this moment as Manchester United Football Club, we cannot speak differently. We are going to fight for the title.”
Mourinho on Adnan Januzaj fitting in his plans, which is why he’s gone on loan to a Premier League club:
“He fits in my plans which is why he’s on loan at a Premier League club. If he didn’t fit then we don’t care we send him to Dortmund. We care about him and think he’s a talented player. I want to give him all the conditions to develop and to play well. He is in the right place with a manager that likes him a lot. Hopefully, everything will go well for him because we want him back!”
Mourinho on Paul Pogba’s suspension and his fitness:
“I knew the situation with the yellow cards but I didn’t know at that time if an accumulation of yellow cards would bring a player to suspension. I didn’t know if the suspension would be in Italian football, a suspension for the same competition, or the correspondent competition in England, the FA Cup. I didn’t know that, so I was waiting for the decision.”
Mourinho with a little dig at Manchester United’s rivals:
“Many more teams have the same ambition as us [for the title] but they are afraid to say it. They prefer not to say. They prefer to play a defensive game in words. They prefer to hide or play defensively with the words. That’s not our way.
“I think Man United has to say we want to win the title, with all the respect for the others. And maybe we don’t win. Maybe we arrive at the end of the season and we are happy that we’ve finished top four. Maybe. It depends on how the season goes.”
Mourinho on the job Eddie Howe has done at Bournemouth:
“It is a good stable team, for sure it will be a difficult match for us (on Sunday). Stability, same players, same manager year after year, they didn’t change their style.”
Mourinho on professionalism at the Old Trafford club:
“Professionalism. We are not here to have fun or to enjoy the sunny weather, we are here to work and give everything for the club.”
Mourinho on injuries:
“We don’t have any. We are fine.”
Jose Mourinho seems positive that his start at his new club will be a good one. The signings he has made, despite one not being eligible to play in the first match of the season, was a good lift for everyone. United will be in much better spirits to tackle their rivals this season – aiming to win the Premier League, which is what we all want to hear. No more comments like; ‘We aspire to be like Manchester City’. Manchester United seem to be back. The rival supporters are once again mocking United like they used to, in a way that shows they are threatened. Many suggest United are still in the gutter, but the business they have conducted this summer shows that it is not the case. Perhaps in a few months time, we could be talking about the fear factor being present at matches again. Manchester United taking no prisoners and defeating their opposition week in and week out.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe spoke about Manchester United in his press conference, saying:
Eddie Howe on Manchester United:
“Jose Mourinho’s first game, it’s a fantastic game for us. We are privileged to host everyone, but it will be special.”
Howe on Manchester United’s players being a threat:
“I think you can pick any player in their team as a threat, especially the full-backs; Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw.
Howe on Manchester United winning the Premier League:
“Of course they can win the league. But so can anybody. I won’t rule anyone out.”
Howe on Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the threat he will pose against Bournemouth:
“That’s a good question. I think he will probably play. A real talent and it’s great to see him here. We won’t be in awe.”
Howe on beating Manchester United last year:
“It did everything for the players’ belief systems. From then on we went on a good run.”
This season could be a good one for all Manchester United supporters. It is not the greatest that UEFA Champions League is not part of the season, but United will aim to get back inside the top four by the end of the season. Mourinho wants Champions League football and players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly, not to mention players already at the club want it too. Next season, United may well be back up there where they belong. First, we tackle this season, take no prisoners, and get back to being a team more reminiscent of Manchester United.