Tuesday 23 July 2019

Manager's early briefing adds to tense mood at Old Trafford

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

James Ducker and Jon West

Jose Mourinho's sullen behaviour at Manchester United took another bizarre twist yesterday when he held a press conference that was missed by most of the media.

The manager turned up half an hour early for the briefing and then left after a tense eight-minute exchange. He had departed as some reporters were still arriving.

Mourinho spoke to broadcasters for only four minutes 19 seconds and delivered a series of monosyllabic answers, hanging around just long enough to deny reports of a rift with United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Former United captain Gary Neville accused Woodward this week of undermining Mourinho by failing to deliver the centre-half the manager wanted. But Mourinho opted for diplomacy when asked if his relationship with Woodward was fine. "Of course," he replied. When further asked if there were problems, the manager added: "No."

Mourinho's brief responses were reflective of a frosty press conference that did little to quell tensions as the Portuguese's dour demeanour shows no sign of changing. When asked if reports of conflicts with Woodward formed part of an overreaction to last Sunday's 3-2 defeat by Brighton, Mourinho said: "You are pessimistic, I'm not."

Mourinho is expected to make a number of changes for the visit of Tottenham to Old Trafford on Monday, with Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Andreas Pereira and Juan Mata all at risk of being dropped. Nemanja Matic, Antonio Valencia and new signing Diogo Dalot are all back in training after injuries.

Meanwhile, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has apologised after being arrested and charged with drink-driving. The France goalkeeper (31) faces a club fine and could also be stripped of the captaincy.

Lloris failed a breathalyser test in the early hours of yesterday morning after a night out with France internationals Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud.

"I wish to apologise wholeheartedly to my family, the club, my team-mates, the manager and all of the supporters," he said. "Drink-driving is completely unacceptable. I take full responsibility for my actions and it is not the example I wish to set."

Spurs confirmed sanctions would be imposed with Lloris also faces the prospect of additional punishment on September 11, when he is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Lloris spent seven hours in jail following a night out at Mayfair restaurant Bagatelle.


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