Mourinho: My players have been phenomenal on tour
Jose Mourinho has heaped praise on the “phenomenal” attitude of his Manchester United players throughout Tour 2018, presented by Aon.
The Reds signed off a beneficial stay in the United States with an impressive 2-1 victory over European champions Real Madrid in Miami, thanks to first-half goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here is what the boss had to say to reporters in his post-match press conference, before the team set off to fly back to Manchester…
FIRSTLY, A TRIBUTE FOR THE TRAGEDY IN MADRID
“Our thoughts as a club and as a group go to the victims of the [plane] crash [in Madrid].”
THE PLAYERS ARE AMAZING PROFESSIONALS
“In relation to the match, the result doesn’t change anything. My professional players were amazing all pre-season because they know we play against good teams, against good opponents. We have just a few [senior] players here, lots of kids. Our kids are really, really young because the team of the older ones, the Under-23s, was relegated – the team went to the second division and were relegated, so the quality was not good. So we prefer to bring kids – on the pitch today we had a couple of kids who were 16 years old.
"People like Herrera, Bailly, Darmian, Mata, all these guys, were phenomenal during the whole pre-season, playing almost every minute of every game. So the game today – if [we] win 2-1, we lose 2-1 or draw 2-2, it doesn’t change anything but of course I know the players and I know I can count on them. I know that these guys are amazing professionals and I know that they give everything for the club, for the prestige of the club. I know it would have not been nice to come here today and lose 5-1 or 6-1 against Real Madrid. They were phenomenal and Karen [Shotbolt, press officer] knows that they were also phenomenal outside of the pitch with lots of commercial commitments, lots of meets and greets, lots of work with foundations. The guys were absolutely phenomenal.”
THIS WASN’T A FULL-STRENGTH REAL MADRID
“I think this isn’t Real Madrid, in the same way this isn’t Manchester United. Real Madrid is the same as us – it’s players from different groups. Some from the first team, some were on loan, some are from the Castilla, some from Real Madrid C so it’s a group of players. Of course all of them are good players, this is not Real Madrid, this result means nothing to them, they have more time than us to prepare the season because La Liga they understand better than the Premier League the needs of the football players and La Liga will start a little bit later. It will let the coaches, the clubs and the players prepare better than us.
"Everybody knows what [Cristiano] Ronaldo is but everybody knows what Real Madrid is, so I believe that of course you always miss a player like Cristiano but Real Madrid is bigger than any player and will have to cope with it. I wish Julen [Lopetegui, new Real Madrid coach] the best luck, I’ve known him for 21-22 years. Good guy, good coach, I wish him the best.”
MY PLAYERS GAVE EVERYTHING
“I didn’t learn anything [tactically]. I know what Herrera is, I know what Mata is, I know what Sanchez is, I know what they are. I know that the kids are really young, I know the kids need time to grow up, I know my players gave everything. We saw that in the last 15 minutes when Real Madrid brought on Kroos, Asensio and Isco. The boys tried everything, they gave everything, they know we have to try to fight for the best result but tactically it means nothing. I just tried with the players we have available to try to organise the best possible team to play against them.
WHY I DECIDED TO PLAY THREE AT THE BACK
“We had only one central defender – Bailly – so I decided because we only have one, instead of two, I played with three because the three can support each other a bit more. Tim Fosu-Mensah is a right-back and Scott McTominay is a central midfielder. We tried to organise the three to make them a bit more comfortable, so I was not working to prepare the team for the future or for the Premier League. I was just trying to get the best possible result. Against AC Milan, we managed to get a draw. Against Real Madrid, we managed to win. Against Liverpool, the team was in trouble and the referee was coming from a baseball match and he complicated the things for us. We were just trying to survive and have the best possible results.”
Reds sign off in the StatesGallery
See our best pics from United's tour-closing victory over Real Madrid...
MORE WORK AHEAD, MORE PLAYERS TO WORK WITH
"My players were amazing in their effort but we have more effort in front of us because in a few days we go to Munich and in 10 days we start the Premier League. We will have [Victor] Lindelof who started training two days ago, plus Marcus Rashford, Jones and Lukaku because they gave to the group and to the team three days of their holidays so they are coming back three days early to try to be available for the team."
WILL ANTHONY MARTIAL BE THERE?
"I don’t know."