Monday 26 June 2017

New boss Silva hits back at Hull critics

Mourinho gives strong backing to compatriot after Sky duo slam Tigers for overlooking English bosses

Hull City manager Marco Silva. Photo: PA
Hull City manager Marco Silva. Photo: PA

John Percy and James Ducker

Marco Silva has suggested that he deserves more respect as he prepares to face Jose Mourinho, who has offered a robust defence of Hull City's new Portuguese coach.

Silva will take his Premier League strugglers to Old Trafford with a severely depleted squad for the EFL Cup semi-final first leg tonight, in only the second game since his appointment last Thursday.

But the 39-year-old was in combative mood as he addressed the debate over foreign coaches, after pundit Paul Merson claimed over the weekend that English managers were always overlooked for the top jobs.

Astonishing

Merson criticised the process behind Silva's appointment, with the likes of Gary Rowett not even interviewed, while fellow Sky pundit Phil Thompson described Hull's decision as "totally astonishing".

Yet Silva has hit back at his detractors and said they had not done their homework on his achievements with Olympiakos and Sporting Lisbon.

When asked if it was disrespectful and lacking in knowledge to belittle his career, Silva replied slowly: "Sure, sure. I respect all the opinions, what the football people talk, but it's not important for me. What is important is my work with my players and what our fans feel, what they believe."

Silva guided Olympiakos to a stirring victory over Arsenal in the Champions League two seasons ago and also won the Taca de Portugal with Sporting in 2015, the club's first silverware for seven years.

The former defender spoke to Mourinho on Friday and United's manager has insisted he has the qualities to succeed in East Yorkshire, ahead of their first meeting as managers.

"It's not easy to come to the Premier League when you are a foreign coach. He knows it is difficult because they are bottom of the league, but it is a big opportunity for him," Mourinho said. "He is a good young coach. He went to Greece. Nobody knows he was champion there. Now he comes to the big one.

"He started from below and wasn't given a top job immediately. In spite of him being so young, he is experienced. He is mature. I would love him to do well. But it is hard to jump from the bottom of the league."

Mourinho's respect for Silva will extend to his team selection, with leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, world record signing Paul Pogba and David de Gea all expected to return at Old Trafford.

And the United manager has challenged his players to kill off the tie tonight, claiming Hull could have one eye on their pivotal league game at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

"We will face Hull with all the power we have. The second leg is away, so if we can do something in the first leg to give us an advantage, we will try that," he said.

"The fact we are winning matches is good. We are not going to throw away an opportunity for that. It is easy to know our team. Zlatan, Pogba, (Antonio) Valencia, (Ander) Herrera. The guys that didn't play against Reading.

"Hull may look at the semi-final as a big occasion. Maybe for them, they have a more important game three days later in the Premier League. Liverpool is a big match for us (on Sunday), but we want to be in the final."

Silva's first game in charge ended with a comfortable win over Swansea City in the FA Cup, but he could have only 15 senior players available for the United game. Michael Dawson has joined the lengthy injury list with a shoulder problem, while Curtis Davies is out with a hamstring injury and Harry Maguire is doubtful.

"We had two midfielders at centre-back against Swansea and this is not normal," Silva said. "We want to keep the result open for the second leg, but while this tie is important for us, it is also important for United, so it will be very difficult."

Silva is facing a desperate battle to strengthen his squad during the transfer window and is set to sign Oumar Niasse, Everton's £13.5m Senegalese forward on loan. But he has warned that Robert Snodgrass, a target for West Ham and Crystal Palace, must not be allowed to leave.

"All I want to do is improve my team," Silva said. "I don't want to lose important players and I hope Snodgrass continues with us. He is an important player. I hope we can sign players this week, because my last two training sessions were with 13 to 15 players. We need to do something fast."

Manchester United v Hull City, Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Telegraph.co.uk

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