Jose Mourinho has been talking ahead of Manchester United’s pivotal UEFA Champions League clash against Young Boys on Tuesday at Old Trafford and he wasn’t particularly happy.
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Before focusing on the clash against their Swiss opponents, Mourinho was asked in his press conference about the disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Crystal Palace on Saturday as his team are now seven points off the top four in the Premier League.
Following the draw against Palace he criticized the hunger of his players and he has stood by those comments.
“When you see amazing things that the players did that demands that spirit, ambition and pride you believe they have it,” Mourinho said. “But then sometimes you have matches where the profile is a little bit different and obviously you are frustrated. For me it was a pleasure, even against Manchester City where we didn’t recover from the 2-0. Even in that match, you score the first goal and fight for the second and you leave the stadium in a situation where everybody feels that anything could happen. Okay, you lose, but you go with that spirit until the end. When you compare against Crystal Palace it is frustrating.”
“What I want is a team to start strong, not waiting,” Mourinho added. “People think that ‘Jose told them to start slow, Jose told them to play nice and easy to wait and see what happens or to be losing for them to react.’ It is exactly the opposite. I want them to start strong and have a go almost immediately.”
But United’s slow starts have continued to hamper them this season as they are well off the pace in the PL. And although they’re on the verge of reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it is largely thanks to an improbable away win at Juventus where they rode their luck big time.
With United able to qualify for the knockout rounds tomorrow if they beat Young Boys and Juventus don’t lose to Valencia, Mourinho wants his players to go all-out for victory and treat the game as a knockout match.
“It is not a crucial match because if we don’t win tomorrow, we still don’t depend on other results. We just depend on ourselves. It is not a crucial game. But I want to play from minute one like it is the last chance we have to qualify,” Mourinho said. I want to play this game as a knockout game, that we have to win tomorrow. The team that I will play tomorrow, I want to put out a team where they can cope well with that happiness with a decisive game. Let’s play this game like a game we have to win.”
Mourinho confirmed that Victor Lindelof will be out for a few weeks, as the Swedish defender needs a scan on a muscle injury and could be out until after the festive period. Matteo Darmian is also missing, but it will be intriguing to look at the lineup Mourinho selects as he suggested there was a lack of physicality in central midfield against Palace. Could the likes of Fred or Marouane Fellaini return?
The combative Portuguese coach also confirmed that United should have no problem when it comes to getting to this home game. They’ve been late for both of their UCL clashes against Valencia and Juventus at Old Trafford this season (due to bad traffic in Manchester) and were fined by UEFA.
“We decide to change hotel. We are not coming from the city center. We are staying at a hotel a few metres away. Information is that things will be much better than last time. If it is not better I walk,” Mourinho added.
As he plans to crank up the pressure on his players to secure a victory against Young Boys, Mourinho was asked if his players prefer to play away rather than at home due to the expectations of United’s 75,000-plus supporters at Old Trafford.
“If you feel pressure, stay at home,” Mourinho said. “If you feel pressure to play matches at home where the people come to support, come on? I never felt pressure to play at home.”