Jose Mourinho defends Manchester United record in 12-minute rant on 'football heritage'

Mourinho defended his Old Trafford in an extraordinary press conference on Friday 

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Friday 16 March 2018 21:06 GMT
Jose Mourinho defended his tenure so far at a heated press conference
Jose Mourinho defended his tenure so far at a heated press conference (Getty)

Jose Mourinho made an impassioned defence of his Manchester United tenure on Friday, claiming that the Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla should come as no surprise considering the club’s lack of “football heritage”.

In an extraordinary 12-and-a-half minute rant, delivered at his press conference to preview Saturday’s FA Cup sixth round tie with Brighton and Hove Albion, Mourinho doubled down on his claim that disappointment in Europe was nothing new to Old Trafford in recent years.

The United manager used a pre-prepared sheet of statistics to support his argument, before later going on to claim that unless rivals Manchester City suddenly stop investing in their squad, it will be “difficult” for United to compete with them next season.

Mourinho believes his side currently lag behind City and other top clubs due to a lack of “football heritage”, and cited United’s European record since 2011 as evidence.

“2012, out in the group phase,” he began. “The group was almost the same group we had this season - Benfica, Basel and [Otelul] Galati from Romania. Out in the group phase.

“In 2013, out at Old Trafford in the last 16, I was on the other bench [as manager of Real Madrid]. In 2014, out in the quarter-final. In 2015, no European football. In 2016, back to European football, out in the group phase, goes to Europa League and on the second knockout out of the Europa League.

“In 2017, play Europa League, win Europa League with me and goes back to Champions League. In 2018, win the group phase with 15 points out of a possible 18 and loses at home in the last 16.

“In seven years, with four different managers, once not qualify for Europe, twice out in the group phase and the best was the quarter-final. This is football heritage.”

Jose Mourinho says Manchester United exit 'not the end of the world'

Mourinho then turned his attention to domestic football and Pep Guardiola’s City, who sit 16 points clear of second-placed United at the top of the Premier League table.

“In the last seven years the worst position of Manchester City in the Premier League was fourth. In the last seven years, Manchester City was champions twice and if you want, say three times. They were second twice. That's heritage.

“Do you know what is also heritage? [Nicolas] Otamendi, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, [David] Silva, [Raheem] Sterling, [Sergio] Aguero. They are investments from the past, not from the last two years.

“Do you know how many of United players that left the club last season? See where they play, how they play, if they play,” he said, referring to the likes of Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger. “That's football heritage.”

Mourinho added that his successor at Old Trafford will be able to call upon talented players in a way that he could not when he arrived in the summer of 2016. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic were name-checked, but there was no nod to Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez.

“One day when I leave the next Manchester United manager will find here Lukaku, Matic, of course [David] De Gea from many years ago,” he said. “They will find players with a different mentality, quality, background, with a different status, know-how.”

After stressing that he is on “the same page” as the club’s hierarchy and that he has no intention of leaving, Mourinho nevertheless claimed that it will be hard for him to compete with City next season unless the league leaders suddenly stop investing in their squad.

“The reality is that some clubs, they were ready to win,” he said. “Other clubs are not ready to win. One thing is to go for the jugular and another is to build a different process.

“If the clubs in a better situation than us stop investing and we invest, we can be side to side. If they keep investing the same or more than us, it's difficult. It's as simple as that. It's difficult.”

Mourinho insisted he was not writing off a challenge to City as impossible and drew parallels between his current situation and his three seasons at Real Madrid, when he competed with Guardiola’s Barcelona year in, year out.

The passionate defence of his record ended with the United manager imploring his players to “grow up” if they are to meet the expectations that supporters rightly hold.

“The fans have to be sad with being out and the players have to learn how to cope with that level of expectation and that level of pressure,” he said, having already walked halfway out of the room. “They have to survive and when they survive they become stronger.

“An easy life and the fans not upset, and no critics, that's not good. If you want to make a real top team with top mentality, you need to grow up and the best way is to have this kind of feeling.

Mourinho added: “I don't want the fans to have low expectations, I want the fans to have high expectations because I want the players to have expectations too.”

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