Jose Mourinho speaks exclusively to manutd.com to discuss Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley
The Portuguese has found himself in the spotlight once again following United’s worst start to a Premier League season in 26 years.
First of all, what’s your reaction to being drawn against Juventus, Valencia and Young Boys in the Champions League group stage?
Difficult for us, difficult for them [the other teams]. A very difficult group with one of the biggest candidates to reach the final [in Juventus] and a team who made an incredible investment on top of a fantastic team they had, so a big, big candidate. Valencia is also one of the top four teams in Spain and that says everything. Young Boys is, of course, a team that comes from the fourth pot and the world will say it’s the team that didn’t have a chance to qualify but for some reason they qualified, they went to Croatia and won in the play-offs [against Dinamo Zagreb], for some reason they beat Basel and they won the Swiss title. On top of that, they play on an artificial pitch, which is a big advantage for them and a big disadvantage for the other teams.
Undoubtedly, all of the publicity will be about Cristiano Ronaldo coming back to Old Trafford, as it was five years ago when he returned with your Real Madrid team. Would you expect a similar kind of reaction from Old Trafford this time around?
I think he [Cristiano] likes to come. My feeling when we played with Real Madrid here was that he was happy to come back and was happy to play at Old Trafford, but he was also happy to score and to win. He comes with a Juventus shirt, he went to Juventus to win the Champions League, he comes to Old Trafford to score goals and to win the match, but Old Trafford likes him and Old Trafford will always react in a positive way to him, which is a great thing.
We were also drawn against Derby County in the Carabao Cup third round. Will it be strange facing one of your former Chelsea players in Frank Lampard?
I don’t think it’s strange, it’s nice. My first generation of players at Porto and Chelsea have finished their careers and many of them have become managers. Frank is the first that I’m going to play against and it’s not strange at all. He always wanted to be a manager. I think his objective is to win a top-two position in the Championship to be promoted, but of course we had Derby County last season in the FA Cup at Old Trafford and every team from the Championship that visits a Premier League team is always a special motivation for them.
We’ve also seen Luke Shaw named in the England squad this week. Is that a reward for a positive start to the season?
Three very good matches. You can say only three but you can also say three very complete matches, so I’m obviously happy for him. I think it will also be a good experience for him to go and for him to play. They are good matches for him to play against Spain and Switzerland, so hopefully he gets some [game] time.
Is there any team news ahead of the game against Burnley at Turf Moor?
[Phil] Jones is injured, as you can imagine. [Diogo] Dalot and [Sergio] Romero will play tonight at Old Trafford in an Under-23s match, which is a first match for them after knee surgeries and they need that a little bit but good news for them because after that it’s the international break and after that they’ll be in real conditions to play. Marcos Rojo started training with the team a couple of days ago. He’s not ready for this [Under-23s] match [on Friday night] but training with the team.
Overall, do you get the feeling that the lads are raring to go against Burnley?
I do. There are defeats and defeats. A defeat always means zero points but there are defeats and defeats. I think the feeling was a great frustration and a great sense of it [the result against Tottenham] not being fair at all, far from it, but during the week people transform that into motivation to work and once more the week was very, very good and we just hope to play as well as we did against Tottenham but with a different luck and a different result.
You watched Burnley on Thursday night in their Europa League play-off clash against Olympiacos, didn’t you?
Yes, I knew that they would change the majority of their players and the majority of the players that played will probably be on the bench on Sunday. It’s always a good way to have a look and to see the direction they go and try to compare with the things that we watch in video analysis and it’s a good experience.
We have won at Turf Moor in the last two seasons. Is it a physical challenge when you go to Burnley?
No, we won there but we didn’t win at home. I think we have drawn twice against Burnley at home – 0-0 and 2-2. Matches against them are always difficult. They are competitive, aggressive and fight for every ball. If you are not ready for that, it’s even more difficult for you.
United find themselves 13th in the Premier League table with three points from a possible nine knowing that the next five fixtures may not only shape the rest of their season, but also decide Mourinho’s future at the club.
A trip to Burnley is followed by another away tie at Watford, before United return to Old Trafford to face newly promoted Wolves. Another fixture in London, this time against West Ham, follows, before Rafa Benitez takes his Newcastle side to Manchester.
Burnley 5.47 v Manchester United 1.65*
*Odds are subject to change. Find all the latest odds here.
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