Belfast Telegraph

I regret not giving Manchester United fringe stars chance to impress: Mourinho

By Samuel Lovett

Jose Mourinho has said he regrets not giving a number of Manchester United's peripheral players an opportunity to prove themselves at the club since joining in the summer.

The Portuguese who was unveiled as United boss in July, immediately set about implementing his unique style of management upon arrival at the club.

A number of United's stars who had featured under former boss Louis van Gaal, such as Ashley Young and Memphis Depay, were subsequently pushed to the fringes of the Old Trafford squad as Mourinho placed his faith in the club's new signings.

Depay, who signed for £31m in June 2015, has made just four Premier League appearances under Mourinho while former Watford winger Ashley Young has featured in five. In contrast, the pair had made 13 and 11 appearances respectively this time last year under Van Gaal.

But Mourinho (below) has confessed he's developed "bad feelings" after failing to give these players a "real chance".

"I still have some bad feelings towards myself because I didn't give a real chance to everyone, there are some positions in our squad we have overbooked," he said.

"The attacking wing positions, we have not just a few wingers but also people who can play there: we can add (Marcus) Rashford and (Wayne) Rooney to players like (Jesse) Lingard, (Juan) Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Memphis Depay, (Anthony) Martial and Ashley Young.

"People like Young and Depay, I didn't really give them a run of matches to prove themselves. So I have this little bad feeling."

Bastian Schweinsteiger is another high-profile star to have suffered under Mourinho.

The World Cup winner, who joined for a reported £14.4m, has been pushed out into the cold having spent a significant amount of time with the reserves.

Schweinsteiger has made just one appearance this season - in United's 4-1 rout of West Ham in the EFL Cup. Nonetheless, Mourinho expressed his relief that players such as Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have both managed to develop as first-team players.

"In relation to Marcos and Phil Jones the injury situation opened the door for them," said Mourinho, whose side face Sunderland on Boxing Day.

"The way they were working in training sessions has given them the condition to go into the game and start immediately well. I am really pleased with both."

Mourinho has spoken before of Jones' recent revival and suggested that the defender's rise to form can be credited to the new medical team the Portuguese brought with him to United.

"Even with me he had injuries that stopped him for a long time," he said. "He was recovering first with the people he trusted in the medical department.

"For about three weeks before he joined us, he worked with my physio. There was a big improvement in condition. Now he looks fresh, sharp, fast, agile."

Reports also suggested a new contract could be coming as officials have been impressed with what he has done since arriving.

Mourinho himself is not aware of it.

"They didn't (offer a new contract) and I'm not expecting them to, because they gave me a three-year contract and were being super supportive," he said.

"They always gave me the feeling three years was not the time I was going to stay and I got the feeling I was going to stay for more time. They know if one day they bring the contract I will sign because I love it here."

Asked whether the lure of the Chinese Super League was an option, he added: "China money is attractive for everyone, but I love my football at the highest level more.

"I'm too young - 53 - to go to a place like China. I want to stay in the place where it is most difficult to win."

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