Jose Mourinho feels his team braved difficult circumstances to get a fine start to Manchester United’s 2018-19 Premier League season on Friday.
[ RECAP: Man Utd 2-1 Leicester City ]
Sticking with the narrative that his squad depth was not enough given the number of players who needed a post-World Cup vacation, Mourinho applauded his short-handed Red Devils.
While Harry Maguire started for Leicester and Jamie Vardy came off the bench, Mourinho opted against starting Romelu Lukaku and used a number of unusual starters including Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Andreas Pereira, and Victor Lindelof.
Mourinho had plenty of praise for Pogba, who is not yet at full fitness following France’s World Cup win. From the BBC:
“The team played as a team,” Mourinho said. “In the second half I had Andreas Pereira and Fred with a yellow card, Paul was fantastic his contribution was amazing, but the fuel was disappearing. We were in trouble. Martial in the last 20 minutes could have given us the second goal but I couldn’t make that change. The players gave everything, they gave what they had. Everybody did that.”
And he again talked about United’s failure to spend on new players after adding Fred, Diogo Dalot, and backup goalkeeper Lee Grant earlier in the summer window.
“We played well in periods against a good team that invested more than us,” he said. “We must get used to teams who have players of the same quality that we have. Every team is a good team, forget the name, forget the history, forget the shirt.”
“It will be a difficult season for everybody, not just for us. I had my plans for many months and I find myself with the market closed in a situation I did not think I would be in. It’s the last time I speak about it. It’s over, the market is closed. .. We have to wait until the end of November to understand if we can fight for the title.”
He also praised Luke Shaw, who scored to seal the win and had been a target for Mourinho’s criticism last season.
“I am very pleased for Luke Shaw. He made one mistake in 90 minutes, he was very good defensively. He had a good pre-season.”