Jose: Juve defenders could teach at Harvard
Jose Mourinho is still hopeful of Champions League qualification, despite the 1-0 home defeat to a Juventus side he described as a 'super-team'.
The Manchester United boss felt his team possibly deserved a point for an improved second-half showing, with Paul Pogba unlucky to hit a post in response to Paulo Dybala's goal. With Valencia drawing 1-1 at Young Boys, the Reds are still in second spot ahead of the trip to Turin next month.
Speaking to MUTV, BT Sport and at his post-match press conference, the boss fielded a variety of questions on the loss.
CREDIT TO JUVE
“I think Juventus are this kind of team that, when they are in front, it’s very, very difficult to concede a goal. I think our attacking players were not with, what I say in a funny way, ‘honey in their feet’. Things were not coming [off], but everybody tried, everybody was strong, everybody was strong mentally to try until the end. Juventus felt it and, instead of the control they had in the first half, in the second half they defended and they ended the game with an extra central defender to add to the amazing [Giorgio] Chiellini, the amazing [Leonardo] Bonucci. Mr Bonucci and Mr Chiellini could give some Harvard University classes about how to be a central defender. A team with everything - they have talent everywhere, all over the pitch. So it was a really difficult match for us. I thought before the game, and during the game, I thought that we could take something out of this game, but it was not possible. We didn’t manage to score but I'm happy with the players.”
“I have to say that Juventus is at a different level and if people doesn’t want to accept that, it’s their problem. I always try to be honest. They have a different level of quality and stability and experience and knowhow and at the base of the team, they have Bonucci and Chiellini. That’s the base that allows them to play with the freedom that they play in attack. With Cristiano [Ronaldo], with Dybala, with people creating. Losing the ball? No problem, we are here. Lose the ball? No problem, we are here, so I think probably the effort of the boys would deserve a goal in the last minute of the second half. We deserved a draw, a point, but it was not possible. But I have no complaints with my boys. I have a positive feeling towards their effort and on Sunday [against Everton], we have another match to think about.”
THE GAP TO JUVENTUS
“A bit [far]. A bit far. Juventus is champion for seven years, you know. Two Champions League finals in the last four or five years and they are not happy with what they have. They go for the best players in the world. A big club with a big past but a big desire also to have a big future. Everything they put there to try to win, I don’t say the Champions League, I say to win the Treble. That’s what they want as normally they win at home. The Treble for now, is not theirs yet, it is ours. But I think they are really close to it.”
THE HALF-TIME MESSAGE
“We had some adjustments because it was difficult, especially with [Blaise] Matuidi and [Miralem] Pjanic, to take the ball from them and to put pressure on them. They managed to have the ball for long periods during the first half and frustrate us. In the second half, we were better in the way we pressed them and recovered the ball faster and then we were more aggressive in the approach, in the mentality.”
CONCERNED ABOUT LUKAKU NOT SCORING?
“The player is a fantastic professional who wants to give everything for the team but I have to agree, his moment is not sweet. Not just for the goals he’s not scoring but his confidence, movement and touch. He is not linking the game well with the team. But he’s our striker, he’s a good striker and a striker we believe in. Could I play Rashford there? Then I don’t have a winger as we’re in this difficult [injury] situation. He’s a hard-working professional. One day the goal will arrive and the confidence will be back.”
SCRAPPING FOR SECOND PLACE
“Since the draw, we've known it's going to be a fight with Valencia for the second position and that is what we are going to try [to do]. We knew that since the beginning. We have four points, three matches to go. In every match we can get points like today - we could get one. But I believe this is going to the last match in Valencia which is a normal situation when the group has a super team like Juventus and two good teams like us and Valencia.”