Sport Soccer

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Jose Mourinho ‘not confident’ of deadline-day signings

Manchester United expected to start the season without the addition of further new faces.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Jose Mourinho does not expect anybody to join Manchester United before the transfer deadline.

Last season may have been their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but the 19-point gap to runaway Premier League champions Manchester City underlined the improvements required.

Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant all arrived at United by early July, but nobody has followed despite Mourinho’s explicit desire to bring in two more players.

In late July the Portuguese said he was confident of getting at least one more signing through the door, but hopes have faded as Thursday’s 5pm deadline edged closer.

“I am not confident,” Mourinho said of United’s chance of new signings ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester.

“I am not confident, and the market closes today, so it’s time, at least for me, to stop thinking about the market because the market will be closed.

“So I will have to focus on the players I have and in relation to these first couple of matches – maybe three matches because after Spurs (and Burnley on August 27 and September 1 respectively) there is (a) national team (break) and a couple of weeks to recover people and prepare people better.

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Nemanja Matic

“I will focus on the players that are available, so I am not even thinking about that list of injured players I gave you, (Nemanja) Matic, (Antonio) Valencia and so on.

“I focus on just what we have, and we go with everything we have to the first match.”

Pushed on whether there would be any ins or outs on Thursday, Mourinho added: “The information I have is no (nothing will happen).”

Mourinho warned last weekend that a “difficult season” could lie ahead if they failed to strengthen the squad before the deadline.

Press Association Sport understands United have been keen to sign a centre-back, but Leicester’s reluctance to sell Harry Maguire looks to have scuppered any move for the England star.

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Harry Maguire looks poised to remain at Leicester (Mike Egerton/PA)

Jerome Boateng was another option but Bayern Munich have not been keen to sanction a loan move. Any deal for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld was a way off on the eve of the deadline and interest in Barcelona defender Yerry Mina has been tempered up until now by prohibitive financial demands.

Whatever the explanation, the lack of new faces compounds issues surrounding the United squad heading into the Premier League season.

Sergio Romero, Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Dalot, Ander Herrera and Matic are all injured for Leicester’s visit, while Mourinho needs to check on the fitness of those that returned late from the World Cup.

“They returned on Monday,” he said. “They trained Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today, so you can imagine they are not really fit and ready.

“But we have needs.

“The list that I gave you before of the injured players is an important list and today after training I will speak with that group of players (back from the World Cup) because everybody is different, physically and mentally, to see how available they feel.

“Because it is very important how they feel and to understand how they think they can help or not help.”

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Marcus Rashford has returned to Manchester United training after the World Cup (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku made slightly early returns so could be involved on Friday, perhaps helping to boost the mood of a manager who has looked downbeat for much of the summer.

Pre-season has clearly been a frustrating time for Mourinho, while a perceived lack of respect for leading his side to second spot last term has got under his skin.

“My view is that first of all it is difficult for me to believe that we finished second when I listen, when I read – not much but sometimes I do,” the United boss said.

“It is difficult to believe that we finished second because you are capable of making people that finish second look like they were relegated, and people who win nothing, finish below us, and you make them look like serial winners.

“So it’s difficult for me to understand or to feel or to believe that we finished second, which I keep saying that I – and sometimes it’s also difficult to believe – that I won eight championships and three Premier Leagues.

“But I keep saying and thinking and feeling that the second last season was one of my biggest achievements in the game.”

Press Association

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