You must be delighted, Jose, with the performance, and also the crowd, what you asked for.
Jose: Yeah, very happy. I’m very happy. The crowd was magnificent. I think they are creating a good relation with the team, with the players. Even players that I could feel in previous years, the relation was not the best. The players are growing up and the relation in the crowd is the same. A clear example – Fellaini. He’s playing so well that he’s changing completely the relation. But I’m happy with the result, I’m happy with the performance – I think it is difficult to be better – in this moment. In this moment, it is difficult to be better. We are changing things step-by-step. We are bringing new things to our game, the style of play is different. The team cannot be consistent for 90 minutes. The opponents are good, they have good quality. They come with their intentions so when we start the game, and they play in that closed diamond in midfield, just to try to keep possession of the ball – not to hurt, just to keep possession of the ball, you have to be mentally very, very strong to cope with it. But then, we score goals, and we were always in control. Very good.
How did you think your new signings went? Especially Zlatan and Pogba?
Jose: I think they were very, very good. But, I think Eric is the same. I think, Mkhitaryan, the last 20 minutes, he show – and the crowd was reacting to the super quality of the boy. But what pleases me more is not just the new guys – it is the others that are coming to a different level. The way Valencia is playing – security. Blind, as I was saying, Marouane, I could give other examples. So, we are fine. For this moment of the season, we are fine.
What did you think of Paul’s performance today?
Jose: I think he was fantastic, and the fact that his first action was bad – he loses control of possession, he gives a counter attack to the opponent, a direct free kick to the opponent – you can see even more the ego, the personality. He is so comfortable under that skin of a star. He’s so confident the way he plays. I think for a 10-day work, first match of a season, not even 10 minutes of a friendly – I think he played phenomenal.
Do you think, Jose, that that will be the position he’ll play in most weeks?
Jose: I don’t know what you mean, because I don’t know what position you mean.
What position would you define for him?
Jose: I don’t know.
What did you say to him?
Jose: Play (smiles). No, no, no, we have to build a certain organization around him – but he has to play free. And for a player to play with the freedom he had, we have to build a certain organization around him. So, the moment we lose the ball, we have to be protected. The moment he starts his movement forward, even when the team is in the first phase, we need to bring other players to the first phase.But he has to play with freedom. Of course, last 10 minutes, 2-0 – now, more disciple, more tactical organization, but this is the kind of guy that has to play free. And I think he brought a lot to the team, so good.
And you seemed to give a lot of very specific instructions to some players from the touchline. What were the kind of things you were looking to improve or change in their play?
Jose: I was speaking for 90 minutes, so it is difficult to say (laughs). Sometimes, it is related to position, sometimes when we lose the ball, I want them to react in a certain way. Sometimes it is when we recover the ball, so, I don’t know – so many things. And sometimes I’m not even speaking to the players – I’m speaking to myself.
Jose, what’s changed with Marouane Fellaini because he’s been a rock for you in the opening two Premier League games?
Jose: Maybe a simple phone call can make a difference. A player that was feeling not loved, a player that during the season and specially when the market opened, everybody was saying he was leaving. Everybody was saying, writing that he was not a player for me. Everybody was saying he was a player on the move – maybe a simple phone call the day after my presentation as Man Utd manager change a lot, because I told him just simply – forget everything you read, forget everything. With me, you don’t leave for sure. Maybe that word of confidence – unexpected for him – because he was not expecting that, maybe changed. And then I think the more organized the team plays, the easier for the players to feel confident. So, he’s playing well. He played well with Carrick, he played well with Herrera, he played well with Paul, so he’s full of confidence. But, I have so many good players. I arrive in the dressing room after the match, and I was happy and then I become sad. Because I arrive there and all the other guys were there in their nice Paul Smith suits, but not the tracksuit. Not playing, or even being on the bench. So when I look to Carrick, Memphis, Jones, all these guys that I don’t select – I’m desperate for September. Because September, we have Capital Cup, Europa League, we have seven matches, and in September, they all play, and then I’m happy for them.
Is Zlatan your designated penalty taker? It was Wayne last season, but has he now assumed…?
Jose: Well, I designate three – Paul, Wayne and Zlatan. And sometimes I like the players to have the feeling – it is for me. But Paul and Wayne – they told themselves, Zlatan, you are the first when the penalty comes – you are the first option. If you don’t wanna take for some reason, then we are here. But, you are the man. So, between them, they made a decision.
Jose, you mentioned Fellaini in the phone call. There was an arm around Mata, when he came off at the end of the game, and the players you didn’t get to select. How big a challenge is it going to be – the man-management of this squad? Would it be the biggest challenge of your career?
Jose: That’s what I’m saying – I need September. Because the relation can be good, the players can be great professionals. They can feel that I trust all of them but a player is a player – and when a player doesn’t play one game, he doesn’t play two, he doesn’t play three, the frustration comes, and it is difficult to train well. And when they start not training well, it is the moment where I have a reason for not selecting them, and is a moment where they go down the hill. So, I need September. Because all these guys – they need to play, they deserve to play. So, Darmian, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jones… okay Smalling today, he was ready with us. Marcos Rojo, Romero, then Herrera, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Ashley Young, Memphis Depay, Marcus Rashford (gasps) – we have big squad and top quality squad. So, I need September, I need September urgently.