Saturday 22 September 2018

Mourinho ready to tinker with squad

United manager feels 'sad' for fringe players amid solid start

United manager Jose Mourinho puts his arm around Juan Mata after substituting him during Friday’s win over Southampton. Pic: Reuters
United manager Jose Mourinho puts his arm around Juan Mata after substituting him during Friday’s win over Southampton. Pic: Reuters
Anthony Martial, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba celebrate during last Friday’s Premier League win over Southampton.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has promised his fringe players game-time after the September international break.

Mourinho has used 15 players in United's two Premier League games but the limit on seven substitutes has forced him to omit numerous players from the matchday squads.

"I try to choose the best players and I know that nothing can change the frustration of the players that are not selected to play," the United manager said.

"But the reality is they all know they belong to a group of 23. To belong to that group, you must be a really good player, and they all are.

"At this moment, they feel the situation because it's one match a week but September is around the corner and, in September, everybody is playing."


"I have so many good players," Mourinho said. "I arrive in the dressing room after the match and I was happy but then I become sad, because I arrive there and all the other guys are there in their nice Paul Smith suit but not a tracksuit, not even playing, not even being on the bench.

"So when I look to Memphis, Carrick, Jones, all these guys I don't select. I am desperate for September. Because September we have Capital One Cup, we have Europa League, we have seven matches in September and they all play and then I am happy."

Mourinho acknowledged his man-management skills would be tested as he tries to keep marginalised squad members content.

"That's what I'm saying, I need September because the relation can be good, the players can be good professionals, they can feel I trust all of them, but when a player doesn't play one, two, three games, the frustration comes and it is difficult to play well," he explained. "And when they start not training well is I have a reason for not selecting them and they go down the hill.

"I need September because all these guys need to play, they deserve to play. So Darmian, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jones, okay Smalling today he was already with us, Marcos Rojo, Romero, then Herrera, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Ashley Young, Memphis Depay, Marcus Rashford. We have a big squad and a top quality squad so I need September urgently."

One of Mourinho's fringee players could be on the move as the summer transfer window deadline fast approaches, with Stoke manager Mark Hughes refusing to rule out the club's interest in defender Phil Jones (below).

Hughes did not give a clear answer when he was asked about the possibility of Jones joining Stoke on loan after The Potters were hammered 4-1 at home by Manchester City on Saturday. Former United striker Hughes is even said to have asked a journalist if Jones was in attendance at the Britannia Stadium.

Jones, 24, has not played for the United first-team since the win over Swansea on January 2 - when he was withdrawn at half-time due to injury - and has been excluded from Mourinho's three matchday squads so far this season.

New signing Eric Bailly, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling are all ahead of Jones in the central defensive pecking order, while Mourinho is interested in Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte and has talked up the potential of 18-year-old academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe.

Marcos Rojo, whom United want to sell, even made the bench ahead of Jones for the wins over Leicester and Bournemouth. Jones joined United for £16million in 2011 and has collected Premier League and FA Cup winner's medals, however his five years have been blighted by injury and he has failed to settle into a fixed position.

Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann believes Paul Pogba has joined the 'perfect' club in United.

Pogba performed well in United's 2-0 win over Southampton on Friday, completing 90 minutes in his first outing since France's Euro 2016 final defeat to Portugal on July 10.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann was linked with United before he sparkled at Euros, where he scored six goals for France, and he is confident his compatriot will succeed in the Premier League.

"I think the supporters in England won't be disappointed," Griezmann said. "They can expect the spectacular from Paul. He deserves it, he works hard and he has the talent to be such an important player. He loves that league. Manchester (United) is the perfect club for him, with Mourinho they are making something new."

Griezmann hinted he is open to playing in the Premier League later in his career, partly because United great David Beckham was his idol. "I liked him a lot," he added. "He was my idol, that's why I wear a long-sleeved jersey and wear the number seven.

"Why not (move to England)? If I am out of contract with Atletico I would ask myself that question."

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