Date: 27 – Aug – 16
Interviewer: Jose, you recovering from that one?
Jose: Yeah, I’m recovering. I think we did everything to win. I know when we score – minute 90-something – we always speak about a bit of luck, bit of a star behind us, but I think the reality is that we deserve it, because especially in the second half, we were so dominant, we were so intense in our rhythm, in our attacking wave that I always believed that sooner or later, the goal would arrive. But I would have to say that Hull City did an amazing job, they defended with everything. They couldn’t counter-attack because we played very well defensively. Every time we lost the ball, we were really really strong. But, I think they did fantastically well, and congratulations to them. And if I was the chairman, I would give immediately the job to Mike Phelan because it is in the eyes of everyone that the players are giving everything, the players are with him, the players cannot do more than what they did. So, congratulations to Mike and to all the boys.
Interviewer: Absolutely, and I imagine that the feeling will be the same when it comes to Mike Phelan. Marcus Rashford. He’s had to wait for his chance, hasn’t he? Wondering when it would come, when it did come, he took it. What will be your words to him when you get back into the dressing room?
Jose: A big smile and a big hug, I think is enough. He’s working extremely well, and both times when the team was in trouble and needing one goal, Community Shield with the score 1-1, and here 0-0, he comes on and he gives a special contribution. And everybody’s speaking about him, or Ibra. They can play together, like we show today, and eventually with more work, he can even play coming from one of the sides. But, I think the kid is a striker and when you play with him and Ibra together, he gives different problems to the opposition. Sometimes, Ibra drops back because he always likes to play with ball at his feet. This kid is faster, he has penetration, he has an appetite to attack the last line. So, we tried everything, we tried everything. I was thinking last change with him, Marouane out, but I was a bit afraid of them in the set pieces, and you know sometimes how these things happen. Dominate, dominate, dominate – and then you go there in the last minute of the game, one set piece and you lose the game. And Marouane is a special guy for us in the defensive work, but I think everyone played well, and they gave everything, and specially this kind of spirit – which I think is amazing – because you only win these matches if you want to win a lot. If you are in a comfortable situation, and you think that a point is not bad, or let’s see what’s going to happen – normally you don’t win. But the boys believed till the last minute, and of course, I feel sorry for Hull, because they couldn’t do more to get the point, but I think my guys deserve, and I think the way the fans supported them, specially in the second half, I think the fans could also see that we were giving everything.
Interviwer: Jose, it’s Rio here. Are you there? I know you said it’s hard on your heart, but in the last five minutes, we were up here thinking, “Even if it’s 0-0, they’re going for it.” In the last couple of years, we haven’t seen that. We’ve been frustrated sitting there, watching it in the studio, and the fans at home. How do you, as a manager, instill this mentality in your team to keep going in the last five minutes?
Jose: We start thinking about what this game could be, even before the game starts. Because we know the way they defend, we know that today they wouldn’t play Huddlestone more in front, they would play Huddlestone in a line of 3 with Meyler and Clucas. The wingers, they defend all the time, so, we knew that we were going to find a very compact wall. Tactically you can change things, you can bring different situations, you can try to create new problems for the opponent, but it is the mental side of it that can make a difference. And we speak about this all the time. And we speak about our objective – it is only one, is to be champions. If in the end of the season, we finish 2nd, 3rd or 4th – it is because somebody was better than us. If we finish 5th or 6th, it is because we were not good enough. But, we have to play to win every game. If we don’t win, we don’t win. And of course, we know that we are not going to win every game, but the mentality is there, the boys are giving everything. And for me, it is amazing when I look to my side and I see the people on the bench suffering with us, and jumping with the goal, we have a really good group, and it is a privilege for me to work with these guys
Interviewer: Well, you can have a break now. You can go home, maybe go house hunting if you want because it’s the international break.But when you sit down and you assess what has happened so far in the first three PL games, how do you refer on your start to the club?
Jose: I think we change the team, we change the dynamics, we change the way we think football, but also the way we think the competitions, and also the way we think the day-by-day in the club. I know Mr. van Gaal so well, because we worked together, and we are so so different in almost every aspect of our job, and sometimes when you arrive in a club, and the players are not so open for change, it is more difficult. The players were open, the players were waiting for me – I can say that way. They were waiting to give everything – I think we play different football. When the ball goes to a fullback, I think you see what we do this season, and what we did previously – it is an example. I think in many matches, the fullbacks are the first to receive the building-up pass, and then it is a trigger. What do you do with the trigger? You play the ball back to the central defender, or you start trying to find the lines to attack the last line? That’s what we are trying to do. Defensively, we don’t play man-to-man, we play zonal. I think the players are growing up a lot because they feel much more comfortable that way, and I am really really happy. I am really happy with the evolution of the team, and I think we can obviously do much much better because the players are very good. My substitutes on the bench are very good. Today, I was looking to the bench and I was counting the solutions – and all of them, good solutions. And I kept Ashley Young on the bench, I kept Memphis Depay at home – the solutions are all really good, the squad is much better than what they show last season. Of course, I think we bought well, but the players are better than what they show last season, so I think we are in a good direction. We are not going to be consistent, I think we are going to be a little bit down-up in some moments, because this is part of the evolution of the team, but I trust the guys a lot and my feeling is that they also trust me.
Interviewer: So, if you’re happy with your strength and depth, no more business before 11 o’clock on Wednesday night?
Jose: No, no, no. I want to keep every player. I want to go to Europa League. Imagine I go to the Europa League, and I change the four defenders – I play Darmian, Phil Jones, Smalling and Marcos Rojo – and I rest four players, and I play with four new. Or I rest Ibra, Mata and Martial, and I play Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, and Ashley Young – so, I have a very good squad. I am really happy with what I have in my hands, and I repeat, it is a privelige for me to work with my boys.