Jose Mourinho’s box office press conference as Man United boss

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Ah, it’s good to have you back.

Jose Mourinho gave his first press conference as Manchester United manager on Tuesday and, as you can expect, it was box office.

Mourinho, 53, signed a three-year deal to take charge of United in June and has already made key signings before they head away on their preseason tour of China.

[ MORE: Matuidi to Man United? ]

Speaking to a packed press room in Manchester, Mourinho touched on many topics including where he plans to strengthen the team, where Wayne Rooney will play, what happened to Ryan Giggs, his record of promoting youth players and had a little dig at Arsene Wenger too.

There were also some lighthearted moments as umbrella’s and wine were mentioned in the same sentence as Sir Alex Ferguson but mostly it was all business from Mourinho.

[ MORE: Lozano to join United after Rio? ]

No “Special One” moments but he delivered a masterclass of setting out his stall and keeping everyone intrigued as to what’s coming up at Old Trafford this season.

“This is not a dream job, this is reality. I am Man United manager. The reality is that it is a club that everyone wants and not many have a chance to have. I have it and I know the responsibility and the expectations,” Mourinho said. “This challenge doesn’t make me nervous. My history in the last 10 years or more was to always believe in the big clubs and expectations. I think it comes at the right moment of my career. I feel very well prepared, very stable and with a great motivation. I can say I am where I want to be.”

Below you will find a transcript from the press conference and throughout the day at ProSoccerTalk we will be reacting to these juicy comments from Mourinho.

Here’s the man himself…


On the aim for this season

“I feel a little but frustrated I am not playing in the Champions League. I don’t hide that I chase Sir Alex Ferguson’s record in the Champions League, the number of matches as a manager. Man United is a Champions League club and we have to make sure that in July 2017, instead of waiting for the Europa League playoffs and the group draw, we have to make sure this club is where it has to be which is obviously the Champions League.

“I was never good hiding behind words or hiding behind philosophies. In fact I never tried to be good at that. I was always much more aggressive in my approach, with the risks that can obviously bring. It would be easy to be honest and pragmatic from myself if I decide to focus on the last three years, to focus on the fact that we don’t qualify for Champions League and so on and so on. It would be quite pragmatic to say let’s work and let’s try and get back to the Champions League, let’s try to get back to the top four and let’s try to do well in the Europa League. I’m not good on that. I prefer to be more aggressive and to be more aggressive is to say that we want to win. We want to win.

“Probably I can anticipate that any one of you will come later with a question about style of play and what is before, the results or the style of play? I can imagine these questions are around the corner and I can anticipate by saying you can win a short competition and a couple of matches without playing well but you can’t win competitions without playing well. What is playing well? Playing well is scoring more goals than the opponent, to concede less goals than the opponent, is to make your fans proud because you give absolutely everything, to make your fans proud because you win. So we want everything at the same time. Again, it is an aggressive approach by myself. I want everything. I want to win matches. I want to play well. I want to play young players. I want to score goals. I don’t want to concede goals. I want the fans to be behind us if in the last 10 minutes we are chasing results. I want the fans behind us because in the last 10 minutes we are defending a result.

“I want everything. Of course, we are not going to get everything. Of course. But we want to.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 5: New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during his introduction to the media at Old Trafford on July 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

On if he has something to prove after being fired at Chelsea

“There are some managers, the last time they won a title was 10 years ago. Some of them, the last time they won the title was never. The last time I won the title was one year ago. It wasn’t 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It was one year ago. If I have a lot to prove, imagine the others. The reality is that it was never important for me. I play against myself, that is my feeling many, many times. I feel like I have to prove not to the others, I have to prove to myself. That is my nature. I would never be able to work without success. That’s my nature. I have to always find the reasons why I have questions towards myself and the people working with me. It is my nature. That is why I could approach this job in a defensive point of view saying ‘yes the last three years the best we did was fourth, the best we did was an FA Cup’ and I could go into that side. I can’t go. It is my nature. We used to say in big clubs, and I’ve worked in some big clubs before, obviously Man United by the social point of view is a completely different dimension. The reality is that when people have year after year a certain type of menu, the menu has to change for better, not for worse.

“Man United fans for so many years success was just routine. In this moment, the last three years, to forget. The last three years I want to forget. I don’t want the players to start the season by thinking we have to do better. What is to do better? To do better is to finish fourth. To finish fourth is not the aim. This is what I do with myself. I am 53. I am not 63 or 73. Maybe you are tired of myself because I started so early at the highest level but I am 53. I am a very young manager. If I have this approach of not trying to prove myself, not trying to prove to the others, not going for big challenges, then I am in trouble. The reality is that I was in trouble for the last five months. That was when I was in trouble. The first month was fine. The second month was not so good and after the second month was a disaster.”

On exactly where he plans to strengthen this team 

“We made a nucleus of four positions as priorities to give a certain balance to the squad, to give a certain push in terms of quality and in terms of the qualities that I need and I want. As you know especially the ones with more vision, as you know I am a manager who likes specialists and not so much the multi-functional players because I am very clear in my approach and model of play. I need specialists. I want specialists.

“We decided four targets and from these four we have three. Until we don’t have the fourth, we are still working hard. Myself, the structure, Mr. Woodward, the owners, we are working hard on that. When we have the fourth, I breathe, we all breathe and the market will be open because we are not going to get the fourth on the 31 August, no way. We will get him before that and then we are stable. But the market will be open.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 5: New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during his introduction to the media at Old Trafford on July 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

On his so-called poor record of promoting youth players to the first team

“Do you want to know how many young players I promote to the first team from the academy? 49. Do you want to know who they are? 49. 49. If you want, or if anybody is interested, I can give you them. I promote 49 players from the academies from the club and with two factors which are very important from this matter. Sometimes you promote players because we don’t have another chance because you have so many injuries you don’t have a choice. The second factor is when you are not playing for big targets it is also easier to bring them up, outside the pressure of the big moments. My record of injuries is very, very low. Even in many years, the UEFA Champions League studies, my teams were many times the teams with the least injuries in the whole of Europe. I never promote players because of a need, I did it for conviction and a decision. The second factor is last year the only season of my career I was not fighting for the title because in every other season it was winning, or finishing second or third once. I was fighting for the title until the last moment, it was never a situation of stability and no pressure to promote players.

“I did 49. Some of the them, we are speaking about big names. We are speaking about today for example are Champions League winners, players that are in the Euros playing for national teams. 49 is a lot. Once more, one lie repeated many times. Sometimes it looks like it is true but it is always a lie. For many, many times many of you with intention, without intention, that’s not the point, I don’t care about it, it was not true. 49. If you want the names, I give you the names. That is no problem for me to prove to you that I am speaking right.”

On Ryan Giggs leaving Manchester United after 29 years as a player and coach

“About Ryan, I want to make it clear. 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 is not my fault. Ryan wanted to be Man United manager. The club, for the reasons they can tell you, they decided the job was for me. From this moment, Ryan wants to be a manager like 16 years ago when I decided myself I want to be a manager. For many of us, coaches, we start as assistant coaches, then arrives a decision and Ryan made his decision. So when you are speaking about, did I offer him a job? He could be what he wanted in the club. The club wanted to give him any important job. He made a decision, a decision where you need to be brave. It is not easy.

“Ryan is leaving his house. He was here 29 years. Not 29 days. He was brave. He was honest. Good luck. If, one day, he wants to be back at the club, while I am here, I will never stop him to come back. I will always say yes if the club asks my opinion and if one day the club offers him the chance to become the manager I think it is something natural and consequence of his success in his managerial career.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 5: New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during his introduction to the media at Old Trafford on July 5, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

On advice from Sir Alex Ferguson

“Bring the umbrella and yesterday I couldn’t believe it was raining at the training ground, so it was great advice! And the second advice was to bring my typical bottle of wine because now we are going to have many occasions to be together. In this moment Sir Alex is on a bit of a holiday at a bit of the Euros so I cannot see him this week but when his summer holidays are finished, I will be based in Manchester, he is the same. We will have lots of times to meet each other. He will always be welcome to the training ground, obviously, and we will have time to share a lot of our personal stuff. Friends, family, life. Obviously he is an important opinion for me. The same way so many legends in this club they love the club, some of them are in the pundits industry in this moment. Every opinion will be important for me. Agreeing, not agreeing. But people who love the club and have a big connection with the club will always be respected by myself. I will always give a look to try and learn from them what they can teach me.”

On Wayne Rooney‘s position being in midfield or as a striker

“In football there are many jobs, there are many jobs on the field. The one that is more difficult to find is the guy who puts the ball in the net. Obviously the players change during the years, their qualities, their characteristics. It is normal that a player at this age changes a little bit but there is something that will never change. That is the natural appetite to put the ball in the net. So maybe he is not a striker anymore, maybe he is not a number nine anymore, but with me he will be never a number six, never somebody playing 50 meters away from goal. You can tell me his pass is amazing. Yes, his pass is amazing, but my pass is also amazing without pressure. There are many players with a great pass but to be there and put the ball in the net, that is the most difficult thing you have to find. For me he will be a nine, he will be a ten, he will be a nine and-a-half but not a six, not even an eight.”

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Fulham - Brentford
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Fulham – Brentford: Which West London Derby combatant will lay claim to a place in the Premier League at the end of Tuesday’s Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium?

We can hardly wait to find out, as the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season and 22nd spot in the Championship will be decided after the richest game on earth.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europe ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+

How will Premier League clubs fare in Europe this month?

Champions League news
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Nearly five months is a long time to wait between rounds of a tournament, let alone legs.

Welcome to the 2019-20 UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, where the competition continues this week after a long, pandemic-inspired delay.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

Who is best set up, aligned, prepared, and built for success?

There are certainly different questions to all parts of that question. Let’s dive into it.


Chelsea

Status: Down 3-0 to Bayern Munich after first leg at home
Next match: 3 pm ET Saturday at Allianz Arena

It’s not happening. We don’t like sounding definitive, especially with Christian Pulisic involved, but Bayern Munich conceding four times in a 3-goal loss at home seems bonkers even after a couple of weeks without game action.

The Blues are capable of scoring against anyone, yes, but this would be a bigger turnaround than even Liverpool versus Barcelona.

Longest of long shots.


Wolves

Status: Level 1-1 with Olympiacos after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Thursday at the Molineux

Should Wolves get past Greek powers Olympiacos, they’ll face either Sevilla or Roma in a real scrap to meet the semifinals.

Wolves feel capable of beating anyone in the field, but this path is far from easy. Still, both Wolves and Manchester United can feel grateful to be in the top half of the bracket, with Inter Milan, Wolfsburg, and Shakhtar Donetsk in a dangerous bottom half.

On a round-to-round basis you wouldn’t vote against Wolves. Over a month, though, they feel less likely than the Manchester sides.


[ MORE: Big moves for Arsenal? ]

 

Wolves news
PIRAEUS, GREECE – MARCH 12: Mady Camara of Olympiacos FC is challenged by Joao Moutinho of Wolverhampton Wanderers (Photo by UEFA – Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Manchester City

Status: Leads 2-1 over Real Madrid after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Friday at the Etihad Stadium

We know Pep Guardiola and his array of weapons are capable of beating anyone in the world, and Sergio Ramos’ suspension from the first leg is wonderful for City. Ramos is having one of those “Ballon d’Or if defenders could win it” seasons.

Having two away goals from the Bernabeu is even better. The bottom half of the UCL bracket, however, is a gauntlet and nothing like the top half. City would love to see Lyon hold off Juventus, but a win over either brings either Napoli, Barcelona, Bayern or — miraculously — Chelsea in the semifinals.

It’s a huge ask but this is a huge team.


Manchester United

Status: Leads 5-0 over LASK Linz after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Wednesday at Old Trafford

United would have to self-destruct in order to miss out on the Europa League quarterfinals, where they’ll be favored whether they meet either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen. The semifinals will be even tougher, as Olympiacos, Wolves, Sevilla, or Roma.

The question here is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has shown some tactical acumen but also failed the Red Devils in the FA Cup semi against Chelsea. United really should be able to out-perform anyone left, even Inter Milan, but will Solskjaer outduel Antonio Conte or even Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui?

Predictions, odds for Champions League, Europa League knockouts

Champions League odds
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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City and Chelsea still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League Round of 16 second legs will take place before mini tournaments begin.

Man City lead Real Madrid 2-1 from their first leg in Spain, while Chelsea trail Bayern 3-0 as they head to Germany for the return game. Man United are all but in the quarterfinals, while Wolves are favored to make the Europa quarters too.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch all of the fixtures in the USA.


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
Friday, August 7: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus 2-1 Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea (3-0)

JPW’s Europa League predictions

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Wolfsburg
Basel 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Manchester United 3-1 LASK
Inter Milan 3-0 Getafe
Sevilla 1-3 Roma


Champions League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
(-139) Manchester City v. Real Madrid (+320). Tie: +340
(-230) Juventus v. Lyon (+650). Tie: +340
(-150) Barcelona v. Napoli (+400). Tie: +300
(-250) Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (+650). Tie: +410

Quarterfinals (August 12-13)
(+200) Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain (+120). Tie: +285
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+133). Tie: 220

Outright winner
Manchester City (+350)
Bayern Munich (+365)
Paris Saint-Germain (+450)
Atletico Madrid (+700)
Atalanta (+950)
Barcelona (+1100)
RB Leipzig (+1500)
Juventus (+1700)


Europa League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
(+155) Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (+180). Tie: +235
(-134) Wolves v. Olympiakos (+390). Tie: +260
(-162) Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (+410). Tie: +310
(+135) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (+185). Tie: +265
(+155) Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (+155). Tie: +275
(-455) Manchester United v. LASK (+1200). Tie: +550
(-143) Inter Milan v. Getafe (+385). Tie: +285
(+110) Sevilla v. Roma (+270). Tie: +230

Outright winner
Manchester United (+160)
Inter Milan (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+700)
Wolves (+800)
Sevilla (+900)


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Reports: Arsenal offers huge deal to Aubameyang, chases Partey, Coutinho

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Thinking about the resurgence of several big name Premier League sides makes the 2020-21 season tantalizing idea. Could Arsenal become a title fighter?

Manchester City, statistically-speaking, was already the most productive team in the league and Liverpool’s team an absolute monster of intensity that seemed to will good fortune on their rare bad days.

Manchester United was second only to City in Project Restart while Chelsea produced as many chances as any team now named City and now has better finishers. Tottenham improved as well — health can be a tactic in that it helps as much as any manager.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

What about Arsenal, though?

The Gunners now have a shiny trophy for Mikel Arteta’s resume after the former midfielder led the club to a record 14th FA Cup.

Arsenal is said to be offering Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a contract that pays nearly $327,000 per week in a bid to convince the superstar that another year of the Europa League is fine.

A report from Football.London says that Arteta believes Aubameyang and a trio of other moves could help him replicate the 4-3-3 often implemented by former club Man City.

The report says that Arsenal is ready to recruit Willian, Thomas Partey, and Philippe Coutinho to supplement what’s already at the Emirates.

Arsenal is in a tricky situation because of how much promising young talent there is, but Arteta will have learned a thing or too from how Pep Guardiola convinced Phil Foden to buy into a longer development. And winning cures plenty.

Who would fit in the 4-3-3? Arsenal has a tremendous 1-2 punch in goal between Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, and piles of questions at the back. William Saliba finally arrives from Saint-Etienne and Pablo Mari will return, too, while Arteta used Shkrodan Mustafi, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, and Cedric Soares this season.

The middle part becomes a lot easier with Partey joining Granit Xhaka and Co.