Jose Mourinho gave this exclusive interview to MUTV's Mark Sullivan ahead of today's Premier League clash with Fulham at Old Trafford...
Jose, the team played with plenty of spirit on Wednesday against Arsenal. How important is it that we show that again on Saturday?
“It’s the minimum you can do in football. When you give everything and you play with that spirit and that enthusiasm, then you respect the club, you respect the fans and you respect yourself as a professional. If you fight to win, you deserve to win. If you do that I don’t think anyone can point the finger at you that you are not a top professional, that’s the basic thing of our job. But of course we want to win, like we tried against Arsenal. Due to our own mistakes we were not able to do that, but there were plenty of good things and the feeling has to be positive for Saturday as a consequence of that match.”
You said it was a difficult team selection for you due to all the injuries we had. Is the situation the same for Saturday?
“Yes, same again. [We are] still waiting for conclusions, still waiting for people like [Anthony] Martial, [Chris] Smalling, [Phil] Jones – people with these kind of doubts. But there is a good spirit and people are putting themselves on the line like Chris did in the last match and Jones did against Southampton. That’s important when we have so many matches and problems with some players.”
Fulham come here with a new manager, Claudio Ranieri, so what kind of challenge will they pose?
“I think [Slavisa] Jokanovic did a fantastic job for them, not just with the promotion but also a certain way of play that was clear with them. I’m obviously sorry for him to leave, but they got Claudio and Claudio knows everything about football. He knows everything about the Premier League and knows everything about different levels in the Premier League because he has managed the top teams and the considered medium teams.Claudio is now [at] one team who, in my opinion, are not going to be relegated even though they are in that relegation fight now. He knows how to play against the top teams and to try to stop them and frustrate them. Claudio’s team always have fast objectives and are direct in the counterattack so I think [it will be] a difficult match for us like every match we have.
You must be looking forward to meeting up with Claudio again?
”Yes. I think the story of the Premier League has two names as managers. One is Sir Alex because of the number of titles he won and the other one is Claudio because of his special achievement with Leicester. So I’m really happy he has come back to, I don’t say his natural habitat because he’s obviously Italian, but to a place that likes him so much and I know he likes so much. I have a very good relationship with him.
“We have some common friends that have made it possible for us to know each other better. We don’t spend lots of time together because of the nature of our jobs, but when you have a couple of common friends who are big friends of both of us then it’s one more link. We know each other well and in this moment we can consider ourselves good friends.”
Fulham have found scoring goals okay, but they have conceded a league high of 36. Do you therefore need to take advantage of what might be a lack of confidence in their defence?
“We have also conceded a lot of goals. It’s very rare for us to have a clean sheet, even in matches where we look to be in control and not having problems, but then the mistakes happen and we concede a goal and many times the story of the game becomes different. I think probably Fulham is a little bit like that, but if you look to the players and the organisation that the manager tries to give to the team, I think they will be solid. One of the matches I analysed well was their match against Chelsea away a couple of weeks ago. They had a very good match and they were solid.”
It will be tough but could a good win be the kick-start you want for the rest of the month?
“I said that before Crystal Palace and since then we’ve had four matches, three in the Premier League and one in the Champions League, with no defeats, but in the Premier League three draws. So obviously we need points.”
A small number of tickets for United v Fulham are available to fans who visit our Ticketing & Membership building at Old Trafford. Supporters interested in attending should arrive early to avoid queues.
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