'How can you reach that level?' - Jose Mourinho tells Man United board to sign top players or get left behind
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho appeared to aim some fresh snipes at the club's refusal to sign centre-backs in last summer's transfer window, after his side were comprehensively outclassed by Juventus in the Champions League at Old Trafford.
The Italian champions may only have secured a narrow 1-0 victory, but the chasm in class between the two sides was evident in a one-sided first half, with a slightly improved United performance after the break not enough to give them a route back into the game.
While Mourinho accepted Juventus were a few steps ahead of his side, he stated time and again in his post match interview with BT Sport that the primary reason why his side are misfiring this season is the lack of quality in his defensive line, after a summer when the club failed to sign Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld and Leicester's Harry Maguire.
He made his point by hailing the influence of Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci with comments that were clearly loaded with a message to the club's owners.
"In the other side there was huge quality. Sometimes people look for Cristiano (Ronaldo) or (Paulo) Dybala but in a top team you have to look to Chiellini and Bonucci," said Mourinho. "I think Juventus is this type of team that when they are in front its very difficult.
"I think our attacking players, things were not coming. But everyone tried, everyone was strong mentally to try until the end. Juventus felt it and they ended the game with an extra central defender to add to the amazing Chiellini and Bonucci.
"It was a really difficult match for us. I thought we could take something, but it was not possible."
Mourinho's post match press conference was also loaded with comments directed as the United board, as he argued Juventus have shown real ambition with their transfer activity in recent years and curiously suggested he could never reach the level of Europe's top sides unless United start buying top players.
"Juventus is champions for seven years, I think seven years in a row, two Champions League finals in the last four or five years and not happy with what they have, they want more, they want more," he stated.
"They had Higuain, Mandzukic, Dybala, they want more. They want Ronaldo. They had Barzagli, Chiellini, Rugani, they are not happy, they want more, they want Bonucci. And they go for the best players in the world. So big, big club with a big past but with also a big desire to have a big future and everything they put there to try to win.
"To go to the Juventus level? Barcelona level? Real Madrid level? How can you reach that level?" Mourinho added to a follow-up question. "Manchester City level? How can you reach this level?" Yes (with new signings). Is not also easy. Because many of the players they belong to these top teams, so we work with what we have we try to improve with what we have."
When asked whether he agreed with the suggestion by his defender Luke Shaw that United gave the Juventus players too much respect in a one-side first-half, he offered up this response: "I don't think so. With the team we played it was to let the boys feel positive and take the positive feeling from our match at Stamford Bridge (2-2 draw last Saturday).
"But Juventus is a different level of quality, I have to be honest. A level of quality, stability, experience, know how. The base of the team they have Bonucci and Chiellini. That's the base that allows them to play with the freedom in attack. 'Lose the ball, no problem, we are here'.
"We could deserve a goal for the effort of the boys but it was not possible. I have no complaints with my boys. I have a positive feeling for their effort."