Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho ridiculed predecessor Louis van Gaal’s reliance on having a philosophy and said on Tuesday his only aim as Manchester United manager will be to win.
The 53-year-old self-anointed “Special One” — who replaced the sacked Van Gaal as United boss at the end of last season — was facing the media for the first time since taking the reins at Old Trafford.
United finished fifth under the Dutchman last season, failing to qualify for the Champions League, and Mourinho made veiled criticisms of his predecessor by suggesting he would not settle merely for a top-four finish.
“I was never very good at hiding behind words and philosophies. I was never good at that,” said Mourinho, who remarked that he felt he had been given the United job at the right time of his life.
“It would be easy to focus on the last three years, to say that we didn’t qualify for the Champions League. It would be pragmatic to say: ‘Let’s try to get back to the top four’. I prefer to be more aggressive.
“We want to win.”
Mourinho’s eyes are firmly fixed on re-establishing United as title challengers — after a three-year hiatus under first David Moyes and then the autocratic Van Gaal — and targeting the Champions League, which is off United’s menu next season.
“I don’t hide. I chase Sir Alex’s record in Champions League matches,” said the Portuguese, referring to the record number of Champions League games the Scotman oversaw, winning the trophy twice.
“Hopefully it is only one season I am not there.”
– Rooney future –
Mourinho, who left Chelsea last season under a cloud for a second time just months after guiding them to the title, sought to reassure two iconic United players past and present — Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.
He said Rooney had a future at United — despite several off-colour performances for England at Euro 2016 — while Giggs would be welcomed back at the club he served for almost 30 years before he cut ties last weekend.
Mourinho insists he sees Rooney’s future at United as a goalscorer, and not a deep-lying midfielder.
Rooney played the final three months of last season in a deeper role following the emergence of teenage youth-team graduate Marcus Rashford in an attacking role.
Mourinho believes 30-year-old Rooney’s attacking threat is still strong, and it would be foolish not to take advantage of that.
“Players change over the years. It’s normal that a player at his (Rooney’s) age changes. But there is something that will never change, and that’s the natural appetite to put the ball in the net,” said Mourinho.
“Maybe he is not a number nine but he will never be a number six. He will never be 50 metres from the goal.
“His passes are amazing but my passes are amazing with no pressure. He will be a nine, a 10, a nine-and-a-half, but never a six, and not even an eight.”
Giggs ended a 29-year association with United last weekend, rejecting the chance to work with Mourinho in order to pursue a career as a manager — although the Portuguese said the Welshman had had little option but to look elsewhere.
“It is not my responsibility that Ryan is not in the club,” Mourinho said.
“The job Ryan wanted is the job the club decided to give me.
“Ryan wanted to be Manchester United manager and the owners, Mr (Ed) Woodward (executive vice-chairman) decided to give the job to me.
“So when you are asking if I offered him a job, he could have been what he wanted in the club.
“If one day he wants to come back when I am here, I will never say no.
“And if one day the club offers him the chance to be manager, I think it will something natural and the consequence of his success in his career.”
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family