Thursday 26 April 2018

Mourinho demands praise for winning run

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Dave Thompson/Empics
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Dave Thompson/Empics

Paul Wilson

Manchester United play the bottom team in the Premier League this afternoon and even though there seems to be a general acceptance that West Brom are as good as relegated, José Mourinho is taking no chances.

The United manager stepped up training this past week because he did not want any complacency to creep in following victory in the Manchester derby . Winning at the Etihad meant United have kept up a 100-per-cent record since going out of the Champions League to Sevilla and it also allowed Mourinho to make a point.

"We have beaten all the big teams around us, but the important thing now is to continue to pick up points in order to finish second," he said. "If we finish second, no one is going to be able to deny us the points total, and it will be difficult to say anyone apart from City was better than us. Second is clearly better than fourth, fifth or sixth."

Mourinho believes United are not being given enough credit for a successful season. It is true they are a long way behind Manchester City, but they remain ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham - teams Mourinho feels are regularly praised despite their inferior position.

"We don't always get the respect we deserve," he said. "When we don't play well people have a go at us, which I understand. I never complained, for example, about the criticism we got after the second match against Sevilla. If you don't play well you can't expect praise.

"Yet even when we do play well there is always a 'but'. It seems really hard for people to praise the team and to praise the boys. This is a team that has showed character many times. A team that came from 2-0 down to win its last match.

"We already have more points than we finished on last season and we have beaten everyone else in the league. I would like people to be a little more honest when we do something positive. If people tell the truth when we play bad they should do the same when we get things right.

"Only a good group with good people could come back after the disappointment against Sevilla and win every match. The easy thing would be to go out of Europe and then collapse in the league through motivation going down. That has not happened. Our quality has gone up, not down, and that is proof we have a group of good guys here."

Paul Pogba was the key figure in United's recovery against City and though happy with his form and work-rate in training, Mourinho has told his most expensive acquisition to aim for consistency rather than headlines.

"I told Paul after the City game I don't expect him to be man of the match every week. I don't expect him to score two goals every week, either, but I would like him to be consistent to a certain level," Mourinho said.

"The challenge he has is to find a degree of stability and not to keep going from good match to so-so match to bad match. The best way to achieving that is to aim for stability at training level, during the working week, and from what I have seen in the past two or three weeks I am really happy with him."

United have spent more on individual players than their neighbours and rivals, and with the arrival of Alexis Sánchez in January, Mourinho does not foresee the need for enormous outlay in summer.

"We are not going to spend more than we can, we are not going to do anything crazy," he said. "Hopefully we finish second this season and then next time we can try and improve on that.

"I'm sure all the other team in the top six feel the same, but let's see what happens. Maybe Manchester City will also invest massively and not let any of the others close the gap."

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