Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has wasted little time in going on the offensive in his new job, taking apparent swipes at the records of old foe Arsene Wenger and predecessor Louis van Gaal, and deriding as “a lie” his reputation as a coach who does not promote young players.
In a prickly first media appearance since starting work at Old Trafford this week, the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss also hammered another nail into the coffin of Wayne Rooney’s stint as a midfielder, said that Ryan Giggs had wanted his job and fuelled rumours of a world record move for France star Paul Pogba.
Mourinho admitted he was “frustrated” at inheriting a team that failed to qualify for the Champions League and said the tenures of Van Gaal and David Moyes represented “three years to forget” but dismissed that his sacking by Chelsea in December meant he had something to prove.
“There are some managers who last won a title 10 years ago,” he added, in a comment interpreted as a reference to Arsenal manager Wenger’s ongoing 12-year wait for another Premier League crown. “Some of them the last time was never. The last time I won a title was one year ago [in 2015 with Chelsea].”
On young players
Mourinho was so keen to shake off suggestions that United’s proud record of developing young talent might be at risk under him that he brandished notes that he said listed all the players he had brought through.
“It’s one lie repeated many times,” he said. “Do you want to know how many players I have promoted from academies? Forty-nine. Do you want me to list them out? Forty-nine is a lot.”
The 53-year-old conceded Rooney, who played in a deep midfield role during England’s ill-fated Euro 2016 campaign, was no longer suited to being a striker, but added: “With me he will never be a No6 or somebody who plays 50m away from the goal.”
Mourinho said of Giggs, who has left the club after 29 years as a player and coach: “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.”
On new signings
The Portuguese said the signings of defender Eric Bailly and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan expected to follow, left him with just one more to complete, amid reports on interest in highly-rated former United prospect Pogba.
He said: “We decided four targets. Until we have the fourth, we are still working hard.”