Saturday 25 November 2017

Jose Mourinho admits struggling to rid Manchester United of Louis Van Gaal-effect

Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho
Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho

Tom Rooney

For what must be the umpteenth and, hopefully, final time, Jose Mourinho has reiterated Manchester United’s intention to acquire an elite midfielder before the close of the transfer window.

At a press conference ahead of Sunday’s Charity Shield clash against Leicester City, the latest lord of Old Trafford was evaluating the performances of his summer signings to date.

All three, Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimović have impressed the former Chelsea boss to varying degrees.

He also complimented his new employers for their accommodation of his requests for additional talent, but quickly reminded them that a midfield powerhouse- Paul Pogba, one would assume – is a pressing priority.

"We got a young central defender (Bailly) that needs time to be a top one, but he has top potential and we believe a lot in him. We brought Micki (Mkhitaryan) here, a player that we know the quality he has.

"We got a super striker (in Zlatan) and we are going to get a very good midfield player, so I am happy with the balance of my squad, I’m happy with the effort that the club has, and is still putting in for us."

Moreover, the Portuguese admitted he is still embedding his methods with the United squad, following a decidedly soporific pair of campaigns under the erstwhile Louis van Gaal.

"It’s a difficult situation to change the dynamics - after two years of work, there are things in their brains that are automatic.

“That’s difficult to change, but we are working hard and the players are giving everything to adapt. Step by step, my team is going to be my team."

Indeed, he would also repeat his dissatisfaction at United’s disjointed pre-season, highlighting the lack of sharpness in some of the players.

"The number of matches is not enough - the game we didn’t play against Manchester City is really bad for us. We need to train, we need to play, we need minutes for the players."

Understandably, Mourinho was quick to buoy the relevance of the Charity Shield which, to date, will provide the first genuine litmus test as to how his nascent tenure is progressing.

Leicester, despite losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and enduring a fairly underwhelming pre-season, have bought well over the last month and possess the capacity to expose United’s rear guard which, at times, looked easily breached during the 5-2 win over Galatasaray.

"I think especially for the players that were involved in last season, it must have a meaning. To play in the Community Shield, you need to be champion or you need to win the FA Cup, and they won the FA Cup. Of course, we are going to try to win it."

Mourinho also confirmed that Chris Smalling and Tim Fosu-Mensah have returned to training following minor injuries.

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