Manchester United still far away from EPL title: Mourinho
Manchester, Dec. 3: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that the English Premier League (EPL) title is still far away but his team is working in the right direction to achieve it.
Mourinho, who is back from a one-match suspension for kicking a water bottle in frustration during the 1-1 draw with West Ham United last weekend, said his objective was to win the league in his first season.
“In the league we have not been getting the goals our performances deserve,” he said.
“There is no doubt we are improving, though. We know where we want to go and our destination is to be champions. Maybe we cannot do it this year,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by The Guardian on Friday.
“You can never tell in football but the gap might be already too large. I don’t know when we will do it, maybe when I am not here, but that is what we are working towards and I think it will happen,” he added.
He also spoke on the strategy of previous Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, asserting that he has a totally different approach and the players need time to adapt.
“Sometimes when a manager takes over a new club the differences in approach are not significant,” he said. “In that case all it needs is a little touch, just a fingerprint from the new man and you can get a lot from what was already there,” Mourinho said.
“Here we are trying to do something completely different. We could probably get better results if we weren’t trying to go in an opposite direction. I am not talking about tactical systems here. I am talking about the way this team wants to play and that is the most difficult thing in football to change,” he added.
Mourinho reckoned that van Gaal was too defensive in style, with too much sideways and backwards passing rather than looking forward to attack between the lines.
The Manchester United manager also praised Bastian Schweinsteiger for his performance during the 4-1 win over West Ham United in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old came on towards the end of the match and impressed the Old Trafford crowd with his performance.
Mourinho, who had earlier tried to force Schweinsteiger to leave the club by excluding him from the senior squad and forcing him to train with the U-23 squad, admired the way the former German international battled through the tough times.
“When he was not training with the first team, he behaved in a professional way. When he started training with us, he was struggling a little bit but he fought hard against that and managed not to get injured. He was continuously working for a month.
“We saw an opportunity for him to play a little bit. Pogba and Fellaini were suspended for the West Ham match and he was ready. Of course, he came on when it was 3-1 and he only played for 10 minutes, but if he were needed earlier, he would have been ready,” Mourinho said.
“He understands our dynamic and our philosophy. You could see the other day that he was very proud because of his determination to stay and I like people with determination.”
Although £200,000-a-week ($255,000) contract means that Mourinho will probably be under pressure to sell Schweinsteiger during the January transfer window, he asserted that the German will be allowed to stay if he wants.
“Of course, he can stay. When you have a contract with a club, you are the powerful one. You are the one who decides your future,” Mourinho said.
“He deserved the little happiness of Wednesday’s match. Now when January comes around, he is the powerful one and probably more powerful than before because he is now training with the team.”