Interviewer: Jose, first of all, how hungry are you, after roughly 6 months of absence from management. How hungry are you to get going?
Jose: I’m desperate. I like the work I’m doing, in the office, organizing things – I like that, I like that work. But anything has a limit, and I reach that limit. I want to be out there on the pitch and in spite of many players are not here to start the pre-season, I have a group that is waiting for me on Thursday. And they will feel my passion, they will feel that I need it. I need it to breathe.
Interviewer: Of course you were officially unveiled today. But it has essentially been 6 weeks since you were announced. Have you enjoyed that time? What has been your impression of the club, the training complex and the people you’ve me?
Jose: What I felt immediately is that the people love the club. I was previously in other clubs, and I was lucky enough to be in good clubs, in big clubs. But I wouldn’t feel that passion. To be fair, to be honest, I found even great professionals in different areas that people there were even fans of other clubs. Man United, I immediately felt that there is a huge passion for the club. You go into the training ground, you see people that love to be nice, love to be ready to show that they are ready to work for you. And they are very proud to say immediately the name and the number of years they are working in the club. And this is amazing because comes one lady, says I’m here for 23 years. Comes one guy, I’m here for 27. Comes one guy, I’m here for 18 – big connection, big emotional connection to the club and I think the clubs are made by these people. It is about the fans, it is about these humble people that work in the club and makes you feel so. If any player arrives at the training ground, they have the same feeling as I had – I think it’s an amazing situation, really.
Interviewer: Talking about players, you’ve already been busy in the transfer market. Can I ask you about a couple of them? Eric Bailly, who a lot of fans might not know a huge amount about, why don’t you just tell us about the qualities you see in him for starters?
Jose: I could compare him to other players with some players I have had previously but I don’t wanna do it because the other boys, they play for other clubs. But, he’s a player that we believe that has all the attributes – he’s very strong. He’s very strong physically. He’s very fast. And it is not so easy to find a fast player when you are quite a big body, a heavy guy, a tall guy – he’s really fast. He comes from a Spanish coach where the first building up phases are important – so technically, he’s very good. In some periods, he played as a right back and because he played as a right back, the right back position demands more by the attacking point of view, so it was good for a central defender to play some periods as a right back. And my only question mark in this moment is the question mark I have to help him to delete it which is the question mark of somebody that never played for such a big club with so many responsibilities, with so many expectations. So, is Eric ready to come here and start performing on day one – I don’t know. It is a question mark. My job is to delete the question mark as soon as possible, and to make him a player with statues and brains and personality to play for Man U.
Interviewer: You probably don’t have those question marks about Ibrahimovic, who we spoke to on Friday, who was really looking forward to working under you again. Are you looking forward to working with one of the greats again?
Jose: Yeah. Absolutely. And let me start by one point which is – 34 is his age. Plus 18 is Marcus Rashford’s age. (34 + 18)/ 2 is the perfect age for a football player. So, our two strikers – they are exactly in the perfect age. Because 18 is not the perfect age. 34 is not, but they are. So, I think they can be an amazing complement for each other with their qualities. A part of that – Zlatan is Zlatan. He wins year after year. His goal record is absolutely amazing. His passion for the game is incredible. It is only possible for his passion and a man of his age with his CV to make at this stage of his career to come for the biggest challenge of his career which is the biggest club he has ever played for, and the most difficult competition he has ever played for. So, he is an amazing player. I think this is a beautiful thing – when you coach a player and a few years later, you have him again. It is beautiful, it’s absoutely beautiful because it means that the relation was fantastic from the personal point of view; the professional relation was great too. So, a few years later, we are back together. And I’m so happy for that, because I know what he can bring to us.
Interviewer: Is it okay that we ask a question about Mkhitaryan, which we won’t use until its done. Is that okay? (Someone in the background says yes. Jose makes a facial expression saying ‘ask her, not me’.) The third signing, Mkhitaryan, who I’m sure many fans have seen play for Dortmund. What are you expecting to see from him here at Old Trafford?
Jose: First of all, let me say that we brought the player that was voted the Best Player in the French League and with Mkhi, we brought the player that was voted the Best Player in the Bundesliga. And voted not by the fans, not by the journalists – voted by the fellow players. And that is the one which means more, I believe – because when your fellow players are the ones that choose you, it means a lot. Mkhi is a fantastic player. And what I like more is the something that is undeniable, that is the number of goals he scores by not being a striker. His number of goals per season is really high for somebody who is not a striker. The number of assists is also very clear because it shows clearly his creativity, his vision, his concept of collective play, and is something that I believe is really important for a club like us. We’ll try to be dominant, and I’m sure we will face teams with a very defensive profile, which is his capacity of acceleration of the game. He has a change of speed, with ball and without ball, that is very very important for a club like us.
Interviewer: Are you hoping to bring the excitement back to the club? Because you’ve been in charge of clubs. You’ve scored 100 goals in a season –
Interviewer: Even better. (Jose gives an expression “That’s right, I’m that good.”). A lot of fans that we get in touch with on TV have been disappointed with the style of play. Are you hoping that the excitement will be back at Old Trafford this season?
Jose: I hope so, I hope so. You know, again, the style of play, the players – they have a huge contribution for that. I think one of my characteristics as a manager was I adapted to what I had in mind. I am sure that even losing, I am sure that Man United fans will remember some of my teams that played here and won here. Chelsea 2004-05-06, Real Madrid, when we came here in the Champions League. I feel that is one of my triumphs is related to this – I adapt to the players that I have. I don’t defend that the manager should have ‘a’ style of play. A manager should be open to adapt and to create a style, and adapt it to the reality. And what we are trying to do is to bring the players to play with a certain style. So yes, we want to play different than the last season. Mr. van Gaal, absolutely top manager, his philosophy is very clear. My philosophy is different – it’s not better, it is different. And my football is different. I’m more vertical, I’m more intense – I like the ball possession as a way to create a chance to be vertical. I don’t like the ball possession as a way to, just to keep statistical possession of the ball, and be afraid to play a game with transitions. Transitions will always come during the game. I’m not afraid to lose the ball, I’m not afraid of risk. But I have one characteristic. For example, this Euro is proving that I am right. By the defensive point of view, in this moment, everybody is trying to defend better. The lines are much more compact. The central area is much more occupied. You give space to the opponents in the sides, not in the central area. You compact lines in a short period of space. And these are characteristics, that are in my point of view, are very very important in a team. And defending well is very very important. And in the press conference, I was saying that I hope that in the last minutes of a game, the fans will be behind us if we are chasing a result. But I also want that sometimes we are winning, we are under pressure and we have to fight to keep a result. So, a football team is everything. Every moment of the game, Every principle, every sub principle that you have to work – and I work a lot to have my team prepared for every possible situation.
Interviewer: Can I just try and ask you how important pre-season is for you? I know you’ve got China, I know you’ve got a game coming up at Wigan before that. How important is that? There are a number of fixtures in a calendar. Do you see that as important ahead of a season?
Jose: They are important, but they are not important to win. They are important for other reasons. For example, the first game against Wigan is very important because I’m going to have some players that I don’t know very well, and I’m bringing to the first team. Kids like Tyler. Kids like Axel Tuanzebe. I don’t know them well. I just trust Nicky Butt and Murtough and their judgement. Obviously, I’m going to work closely with them – I have to trust them. So when they say to me that we have a few players that in a couple of years, they can be first team players, I have to work with them. I have to give them the chance to work with the first team, to know me, to feel me, to accelerate the process. Because that process will be in the academy, but I can accelerate the process so let’s go for it. It’s not important to win, but it is important to know them and to give them an opportunity to work. Then we go to China. I think it is more important for the Asian fans than for ourselves. Again, I’m taking the English boys that I did not expect to come. They are coming. I’m taking them but I’m not going to play them. So what is more important? Important is to work, is to be together, is to know each other, is to live together 24 hours everyday during a week. And, finally, when you come back from China is when the other people are waiting for us. And we are going to be together just 10-12 days before the Charity Shield, 15-17 days before the first game against Bournemouth. And this is a difficult situation, specially for a new manager. But we cannot run away from it, this is what we have. And, we have to try to do the best we can. But the reality is that you have to try to short some process. The process will take obviously weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks, and sometimes years and years. We have always a chance to improve. But I am going to try to give the team in these two weeks that we are together to try to give the team I don’t say the ‘dynamica’, because the dynamica takes time but the principles. And my principles are quite objective and I understand that for the players will be not a drama to understand them and to try to give me what I want.