It is clear Jose Mourinho and Manchester United need reinforcements in January to sustain their top four battle.
But it looks like they won’t be buying off Spurs in the upcoming transfer window.
With United 14 points off top spot in the Premier League and seven points off the top four, Mourinho pointed to a previous era where they could sign the best player from the likes of Tottenham Hotspur season after season to improve their squad.
The main message from Jose: times, they’re are a changin’.
Speaking ahead of their trip to Southampton on Saturday (Watch Live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho admitted it is nearly impossible to now buy Tottenham’s top players.
“Is Manchester United, by its history and dimension, bigger than Tottenham? Tottenham is an amazing club but I think everybody would say yes. Can you buy Tottenham’s best players? No,” Mourinho said. “Football has changed. Can we go there now and bring Harry Kane here? Dele Alli? Eriksen? Son? No. So who is more powerful now? Them or us?”
This is not something United’s fans will want to hear, but perhaps it is something they need to hear.
The expectation levels on Mourinho and United have been through the roof over the past three years and the fact they’ve qualified for the UEFA Champions League In both of his full seasons in charge, won two trophies and finished second in the PL in 2017-18 probably proves that this group of players have hit their ceiling.
But that is as damning on Mourinho as it is the players themselves.
Mourinho has spent over $460 million on new players since he arrived at United in the summer of 2016, yet many of his new signings haven’t worked out. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku have delivered at times, but the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have not improved the level of the squad.
“You have no chance in the market unless you go to crazy numbers,” Mourinho said. “Instead you go to the second level players where you still have crazy numbers, and where people say, and I agree, that’s not what Manchester United is.”
Mourinho isn’t trying to lift the gloom around United right now. Instead he’s trying to usher in the new reality which he hopes will buy him more time and leniency to turn United into genuine title contenders once again.
Without a clear playing style and plan in the transfer market, it’s unlikely Mourinho will ever get United back to doing that.