Thursday 19 April 2018

Jose Mourinho goes all Rafa Benitez in staunch defence of his youth policy

New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho
New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho brandished a list of every young player he has ever promoted from an academy as the new Manchester United manager launched a robust defence of his record of blooding youth.

Mourinho’s critics have questioned whether the former Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Porto manager will honour United’s long-standing tradition of promoting young players from the club’s academy.

Players as gifted as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Norman Whiteside, Mark Hughes, Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best have all come through the club’s ranks but Mourinho scoffed at the idea that he had no interest in promoting from within.

Anticipating questions about his record, Mourinho came armed with a notebook detailing every academy player he has promoted and offered to name each player individually only to be told by a press officer he would not have time to reel off every name.

“I have no time to answer it - to answer it would take 10 minutes,” he said. “I knew that was coming. You know how many young players I promote to the first team from academies? 49. 49 …. 49.

“Do you want to know who they are? I can give you that. I promote 49 players from the academies from the clubs and with two factors - sometimes you promote players because you don’t have another chance because you have so many injuries.

“That is one factor and the second factor is when you are not playing for big targets, it is easier to bring them up. My record of injuries is very, very low. Even in many years from the Champions League studies about every team, my teams were many times the teams with less injuries.

“I never promote players because of need. I did it because of conviction and decision. Last year was the only season of my career when I was not fighting for the title winning or finishing second or third once so it was never a situation of stability and no pressure to promote players. I did 49.

“Some of them are big names, they are today Champions League winners in the Euros, playing for national teams and 49 is a lot. So one lie repeated many times sometimes it looks true but it will never be true. 49. If you want the names, I give you the names.”

Comparisons have been made between Mourinho's notebook and the infamous dossier Rafa Benitez produced a press conference during Liverpool failed title bid in 2009.

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