Jose Mourinho sat down with MUTV on Friday afternoon, ahead of United's return to Premier League action with a home match against Crystal Palace. Here's what the manager had to say...
How has this international period been for you? You took in a match abroad…
“For me, it's always the same. It is the frustration of not working with my players. It is that feeling of being worried all the time, waiting for news and, a majority of the time, the news is bad news because something happens with our players. It is organising the near future so I think about Crystal Palace, Young Boys and Southampton - the matches that are arriving. It is a little bit of time to rest and be with the family, plus see a bit of football. I was in London and Brussels is just around the corner on a nice train, so I went there. It was good.”
We see how hard you work on a daily basis but do you need to take time to rest and recuperate a little?
“The week before was a week with three away matches - three difficult away matches. The recovering between Juventus and Manchester City was short. It was hard so I would say that, for everybody, after City, it was good to have a little bit of time to breathe, which some of us, we managed to do. Some of the boys went to the national teams and that's the way it is.”
It's physically straining in the modern game but is there a mental aspect as well?
“Yeah, I've said that. I think we made a few individual mistakes against Man City and that, for me, is clearly what I call the central fatigue. The central nervous system that is under fatigue. Not just physically, it is the tactical situation, the thinking, the pressure. So you leave a game like Juventus, two days after, to go to City and your answer is not the same. So I get that perfectly - especially with high-level football."
Now the internationals are over, how is the squad shaping up?
“I don't say 'perfect perfect' because some of the players are not in perfect condition but are available to play. There is a little bit of risk, a little bit of limitation but everyone wants [to play], everybody works hard. The majority of the international teams were good, in the sense they understand the players' situation. The players were professional.
“For example, Marcus Rashford was supposed to be back on Wednesday but, because he was injured in the Sunday match with the national team, at nine o'clock on Monday morning, he was here for his treatment. So the players also helped the medical department to work and, in the end, the conclusion is that, today, I had all the 26 players available for selection."
So that includes Anthony Martial after he pulled out of the France squad with a knock?
Crystal Palace have had a difficult run of games - playing Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea in a row - so how do you assess them?
“That's why I don't look to where they are in the table. I look to where they are as a team. They have a very experienced manager [in Roy Hodgson], very good players and are a good team playing well against the top teams. Going to Chelsea and discussing the result until the last 10 minutes. Getting a point against Arsenal. By a miracle, they didn't get a point against Tottenham but were very, very close to doing that. Every time they play against a top team, they are very well organised with their 4-4-2 and very close lines, plus two very good attacking and dangerous players on the counter-attack. It doesn't matter who they are - [Andros] Townsend, [Jordan] Ayew, [Wilfried] Zaha. They have these boys that are dangerous in attack so I think it's a tricky match for us. Probably, people think that the match is going to be an easy one for us but I've told the players already to forget it. It's not going to be easy, for sure.”
After the tough away matches, we now have four or five at home coming up so how beneficial is that?
“Until the end of December we have five Premier League matches at home, plus the Young Boys one in the Champions League and that is a good occasion. If we get it, it's a good occasion to take one more step in the Champions League, perhaps the step that puts us in the last 16. But, if Juventus lose against Valencia, even if we're winning, we don't qualify. If that happens, we can fight for first position in the last match. But we need to beat Young Boys at home. In the Premier League, there are 15 points on the table [at home] and we must be sure we can take them or don't leave many behind.”
MUTV will have the best build-up to Saturday's game against Crystal Palace, including interviews with the manager and players, plus team news and analysis from 13:30 GMT. Kick-off at Old Trafford is 15:00 GMT.
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