Jose Mourinho’s First Press Conference as Man United Manager

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Jose Mourinho at his First Press Conference as Manchester United Manager.

Interviewer: Good morning
Jose: Good morning
Interviewer: James Cooper from Sky. We’ve had various incarnations since you’ve been in England. You’ve been the special one, you’ve been the happy one. What does Manchester make you?
Jose: I don’t know. Really. The other two times I was arriving at the country. This is a different one. I was sacked by Chelsea and then I stayed in the same country, the same competition, with the same faces in front of me basically. So it’s nothing new for me really. It’s just I arrive into a club that is difficult to describe. It’s difficult to find the right words to describe this club. I don’t like the denomination that people use many times is the ‘dream job’ – this is not a dream job, this is reality. I am Man United manager but the reality is that, it’s a job that everybody wants, and not many have the chance to have. And I have it, I have it and I know the responsibility; I know the expectation, at the same time, I know the legacy. I know what is behind me. I know the history of this club, I know the fans – what they expect from me. And I think this challenge does not make me nervous, obviously – my history in the last ten years or more was always to meet big clubs’ expectations. And i think it comes in the right moment of my career, where I feel, obviously, very well prepared, very stable and with a great motivation. I can say that I am where I want to be – I want to be in this club, I want to be in this country, I want to be in the Premier league and I want to be in the domestic cups. I feel a bit frustrated that I’m not playing Champions League – I don’t hide that I chase Sir Alex’s record in the Champions League – number of matches as a manager. I’m at 130 matches – a little bit more, a little bit less. And hopefully, it’s only one season that we are not there, and when I say we, obviously the club is much more important than myself. Man United is a Champions League club. And we have to make sure that July 2017, instead of waiting for the Europa League playoffs and group stages, we have to make sure that this club is where it has to be, and that is obviously, the Champions League.

Interviewer: Jose, Samuel Stone, BBC. The reality of Manchester United is that the last three years, they’ve finished 7th, 4th and 5th. You’ve said in your statements – forget about the last three years. Realistically, what is the aim this year – is the aim to compete or is the aim to win these big trophies?
Jose: I think it depends on the way you want to face it. I was never very good playing with the words and playing behind words, and hiding behind words, and hiding behind philosophies. I was never good on that. In fact, I never tried to be good on that. I was always much more aggressive in my approach with the risks that, obviously, that can bring. It would be easy, even honest and pragmatic from my side to focus on the fact that (in the last three years) we don’t qualify for the Champions League and it would be quite pragmatic to say that – let’s work and lest try to be back to the Champions League, let’s try to be back to the top 4, let’s try to do well in the Europa League – and I’m not good on that. I don’t want to be good on that. I prefer to be more aggressive and to be more aggressive is to say that we want to win. We want to win. And probably I can anticipate that anyone of you would come later with a question about the style of play, and what is before is a result of the style of play – I can imagine that one of these questions is around the corner. And I can anticipate by saying you can win a short competition, you can win a couple of matches without playing well. You cannot win a competition without playing well. What is playing well? Playing well is scoring more goals than the opponent. Playing well is conceding less goals than the opponent. It is to make your fans proud because you give absolutely everything, is to make your fans proud because you win, so we want everything at the same time. And again, this is an aggressive approach by myself – I want everything. I want to win matches, I want to play well, I want to play young players, I want to score goals, I don’t want to concede goals. I want the fans to be behind us because in the last ten minutes, we are chasing a result. I want the fans to be behind us because in the last ten minutes, we are defending a result – I want everything! Of course, we are not going to get everything. Of course. But we want to.

Interviewer: Jose, Martin Samuel, The Daily Mail. I’ve read an interview with you a number of years ago in which you liked big players with a point to prove. And that was one of the things that appealed to you about some of the signings you’ve made, and the players you’ve inherited. Do you fit that category now of being a big player with a point to prove?

Jose: Can you repeat, Martin, please? (He does.) There are some managers that the last time they won a title was 10 years ago, There are some managers that the last time they won a title was never. The last time I won a title was 1 year ago. Was not 10 years ago, was not 15 years ago, was 1 year ago. So, if I have a lot to prove, imagine the others. But the reality is that that was never important for me. You know, I play against myself – that’s my feeling many many times. I have to prove not to the others, I have to prove to myself – that is my nature. I would never be able to work without success. That’s my nature. I have always to find the reasons why I have always many questions towards myself and towards the people working with me. That’s my nature. That’s why I could approach this job in a defensive point of view – by saying that the last three years, yes, the best we did was 4th; the best we did was an FA cup – I could go into that side. I can’t go – it’s my nature. We used to say in big clubs – and I’ve worked in some big clubs before. Obviously, Man United, by the social point of view, is a complete different dimension. But the reality is that people – when people have year after year, a certain kind of menu – when you change that menu, you have to change it for the better, not for worse. And Man Utd fans for so many years – success was just routine. In this moment, the last three years, to forget. The last three years I want to forget. I don’t want the players to start the season by thinking we have to do better – what is to do better? To do better is to finish fourth! To finish fourth is not the aim. And this is what I do with myself – I am 53. I am not 63 or 73. Maybe you are tired of myself because I started so early at the highest level – but I’m 53, I’m a very young manager. If I have this approach of not trying to prove to myself, not trying to prove to others, not going for big challenges – then I am in trouble. The reality is that I was in trouble for the last 5 months – that was when I was in trouble. The first month was fine, the second month was not so good, and after the second month was a disaster.

Interviewer: Jose, Ian Erving from Premier League Productions. You’ve already began to make your mark on the squad. How many more changes do you need to make?

Jose: I don’t know. I really don’t know. (To his side:) The third player is already official, or not yet? (No, she says.) No? So the third player will be official when? (Soon, she says). I can try to make you understand the profile. We made the nucleus of four priorities, four positions to give a certain balance to the squad – to give a certain push in terms of quality and in terms of the qualities that I need, that I want. As you know, specially the ones with more vision, I’m more a manager that likes specialists and not so much the multi-functional players because I’m very clear in my approach, in my model of play. So, I need specialists for that and not multi-functional players. Multi-functional players I like one or two because when you are in trouble during the season, you always need one or two guys – they can fill the space where you are in trouble. If you have three central defenders injured or suspended, you need some leftback or some midfield player that can give you a hand. But, basically, I want specialists. We decided four targets. From this, we have.. two or three? (Two, at the moment, she says). Three. We have three (sly smile). And till we don’t have the fourth, we are still working hard. Myself, and the structure, Mr. Woodward, and the owners – they’re working hard on that. When we have the fourth, I breathe. We all breathe, and then the market will be open! Because we are not going to get the fourth on the 31st of August – no way.We’re going to get the fourth before that. And then, we are stable. But, the market will be open. There is something that for me is very very important – is that the players that I keep, they are all happy. So, you never know what can happen after that. Imagine first match, I don’t select somebody. Somebody gets disappointed, somebody has the chance to go to another club, somebody is feeling he’s not going to be fundamental; somebody decides he wants to leave, we agree to leave. If somebody leaves, somebody comes in. So, there is a fundamental market and there is an additional – you say that no? – market, a supplementary market. When we finish the fundamental, I repeat – I breathe. And then let’s see what happens. But we are doing well – we are getting the players we want. Now we have the third, and hopefully we will have the fourth.

Interviewer: Jose, Ian Augustus from the Sun. How big is the challenge that is right at your doorstep in terms of Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. And how excited are you about taking him on again as you did in Spain?

Jose: I think Leicester’s legacy was not just the happiness around the country, and the smile on all our faces with what they did last year. The legacy from them is also the fact that from now on, we are in a competition where 20 teams are fighting for the title. That’s the legacy. Next season, if you have another team that wins the first five matches, you will consider that team – doesn’t matter who they are – you will consider them candidates.  It’s over, that time, when you say, “Oh! these guys are doing very well, but in December, they will collapse.” In this moment, that collapse word – Leicester – they kill it. And, to speak about one manager, one club, one… I don’t like the word, one enemy. I hate the word in football. And in life. I don’t think that’s right in this country. One thing is you are in a competition, like I was in Spain, which was a two-horse race. Now, it has become three, but at that time, it was just two. Or when I was in Italy, there were three teams fighting for the title. Then, that kind of an approach makes sense. In the Premier League, it doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t make sense at all. Because if you focus too much in one team, in one opponent, the other ones will be laughing – the other ones will be so happy with that. So, I’m not going to be a part of that. I’m Man United manager, with all the respect to all the other clubs in the country. Specially one, that was my house for seven years. And I shared so many incredible moments with the fans. I have to say that I’m the manager of the biggest club in the UK, so I don’t have to be looking to the other so much, and I’m going to be focusing on ourselves and our jobs. So, I have the same respect for every club, every manager and every opponent. And thanks a lot to what Leicester did, because it is one of the legacies to change forever the profile of the competition.

Interviewer: Jose, Don McGuiness, TalkSport. Obviously, Ryan Giggs has left the club. But one of the things that has always been labelled at you is that you don’t promote youth players. Ryan Giggs is very much the epitome of Manchester United promoting local young players. Is that something you feel you will get around? The culture of United, and that emphasis on…

Jose: First of all, let me ask how much time we have in the press conference. 5 minutes? Then, I don’t have time to answer it. Because to answer your question, I will take 10 minutes. (Interviewer: Just a couple of minutes, then.) Just a  a couple of minutes? I knew it, that was coming.Do you know how many young players I promote to the first team from academies? 49. Do you want to know who they are? You don’t want to know who they are. 49. 49. If you want, or if anyone is interested, I can give you that. I promote 49 players from the academies from the clubs, and with two factors that are very important on these records. Because sometimes you promote players, because you don’t have another choice. You have so many injuries, because you don’t have another choice. You have to bring up the players from the academy because you have lots of players injured. That is one factor. And the second factor is when you are not playing for big targets – it’s also easier to bring them up. Outside the pressure of the big moments. My record for injuries is very very low – very very low. Even in many years, from the UEFA Champions League studies about every team, my teams – they were many times the team with less injuries in the whole Europe. So, I never promote players because of a need. I did it because of conviction, and decision. And the second factor is that last year was the only season of my career that I was not fighting for the title. Because in every other season, winning or finishing second – or even third, I came third once – I was fighting for the title until the last moment. So, it was never a situation of stability and no pressure to promote young players. I did 49, and some of them – we are speaking about big names, we are speaking about players who today, for example, are Champions League winners, players who are in the Euros, players that are playing for national teams, and 49 is a lot. So, once more, one lie repeated many times – sometimes it looks that it is true, but it will always be a lie. So for many many times, many of you, with intention/ without intention – that’s not the point, I don’t care about it – it was not true. And if you want the names, I give you the names. That’s no problem for me to prove to you that I am speaking right. And about Ryan, let me finish with it because I want to make it clear, I never run away about my responsibilities. But the reality is that it is not my responsibility that Ryan is not at the club. The job Ryan wanted is the job that the club decided to give me. It’s not my fault. Ryan wanted to be Man United manager. And the club – for reasons that only the club, the owners, Mr. Woodward, the board can tell you – they decided that the job was for me. From this moment, Ryan wants to be a manager. Just like 16 years ago, I decided myself – I want to be a manager. For many of us coaches, we start as assistant coaches. And for many of us, arrives a moment where we make a decision – and Ryan made his decision. So when you are speaking about did I offer him a job? Could he be my assistant? Could he be..? He could be what he want in the club. The club wanted to give him any job, any important job in the club. He made a decision, a decision where you need to be brave. Because it’s not easy. It happened with myself. I was in Barcelona in 2000. I had a contract for 2 more years to be an assistant. Do you think it was easy for me to leave such a big club, such good stability and decide – let’s go to a new fight. It was not easy. And for Ryan, it’s not just the step of going from assistant manager to manager, it’s also the step of leaving his house. 29 years is not 29 days. So, he was brave. He was honest. So, good luck. Good luck. And if one day, he wants to come back to the club while I’m here – I’ll never stop him to be back. I will always say yes if the club asks me my opinion. And if one day the club offers him the chance to become the manager, I think it will be something that will be natural, and a consequence of his success of his managerial career.

(Okay, last two questions, one there and one there.)

Interviewer: Jose, Paul Hirst from The Times. Can you tell us what kind of advice Sir Alex Ferguson has given you since you took the job, and will you be talking to him over the rest of the season  to get more advice?

Jose: Yeah, bring an umbrella. And yesterday, I couldn’t believe that it was raining on the training ground. So, it was great advice. The second advice was to bring my typical bottle of wine, because now we are going to have many occasions to be together. In this moment, Sir Alex is on a bit of a holiday, on a bit of the Euros. So, I cannot see him this week. But when his holidays are finished, I’ll be based in Manchester. He’s the same. We’ll have lots of time to meet each other. He’ll be always welcome to the training ground, obviously and we’ll have time to share a lot of our personal stuff, friends, family, life. But obviously, his opinion is an important opinion for me in the same way so many legends in this club. They love the club, some of them are in the pundits industry in this moment. So, every opinion will be important for me. Agreeing, not agreeing. But people that love the club and have a big connection with the club will always be respected by myself, and I will always give a look to try and learn from them what they can teach me.

(Okay guys, last question.)

Interviewer: Jose, Mark Ogden, The Independent. You mentioned before about wanting specialists and not multi-functional players. Where do you see Wayne Rooney next season – is he a striker or is he a midfielder?

Jose: Where are you my friend? (can’t locate the interviewer) Oh, sorry. Yeah. You know, I think, in football, there are many jobs on the field. I think the one that is more difficult to find is the guy that puts the ball in the net. And obviously, the players – they change during the years their qualities and their characteristics. It is normal that a player at this age changes a little bit. But there is something that will never change , which is the appetite, the natural appetite to put the ball in the net. So, maybe he’s not a striker anymore, maybe he’s not a number 9 anymore. But with me, he will be never a number 6. He will be never somebody playing 50m away from the goal. You can tell me, his pass is amazing. Yes, his pass is amazing but my pass is also amazing without pressure. There are many players with a great pass but to be there and to put the ball in the net is the most difficult thing you have to find. So for me, he will be a 9, a 10, a 9-and-a-half but not a 6. Not even an 8.

Thank you guys, see you soon.

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