Manchester United face Bournemouth in the Premier League today and, ahead of the 12:30 GMT kick-off at Vitality Stadium, we caught up with Jose Mourinho to gather his thoughts about the game. Check out what the manager had to say...
You rarely have a full week to prepare with your players – how has it been?
Good. A very good week. We’ve worked tactically, we’ve improved some fitness levels. We improved some of the players who were almost there but not there – Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez – these players who were already available but not yet at a good level. We trained with our kids too, mixed with us on one of the days, which was an amazing feeling for them. A good week.
It’s great news for the fans that the squad is starting to fill up again with fewer injured players…
Yes. Diogo Dalot and Marouane Fellaini are still out. The only one who went one step back was Antonio Valencia with some problem in his knee but Lingard and Alexis, now I can say they are ready.
I think Wolves will do the same, as an example. I think the teams now come up from the Championship much better prepared because the distance has shortened a lot, so they come to the Premier League and they feel they belong here and they are ready for it. The work Bournemouth are doing shows they are a Premier League team. They have that stability season after season and when they have that, they can think about bigger dreams.
Bournemouth have that compact stadium - how difficult a place is it to play there down on the south coast?
I like to go there. Maybe because we won both games there but independent of that, I like to play there. The stadium is small but it’s beautiful. The fans are enthusiastic. The surface is normally in very good condition. They play well and they want to win matches. They are not just there to try to frustrate a team that is, on paper, better than them. I really like to play there but I know it’s going to be difficult. I know that they are very enthusiastic at the moment. They are three points ahead of us and are going to fight to keep that distance, at least.
It’s hard, obviously it’s hard. I always say, at the end of the season, you’ve had to play 19 matches at home and 19 away. You play everyone home and away. There is no advantage or disadvantage because of the fixture calendar you have during the season. But it’s not like that because there are periods where you really feel it’s going to be hard. We’ve had it twice – we had Burnley and Watford, two consecutive matches away, and now we have Bournemouth and Manchester City, two consecutive matches away, too. I repeat: at the end of the season it’s 19-19, but now you have two double fixtures where you have four matches away. There will come a time when we have two matches at home. I think we will have, for example, Fulham and Arsenal in December, but at the moment it’s hard. Juventus in the middle of it. And then when we go to Liverpool, I think four days before, we go to Valencia. The hot and cold balls were not nice to us! (Laughs)