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Jose Mourinho would have 'relished challenge' of succeeding Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said ahead of David Moyes' first return to the club since he was sacked in April 2014 that he wishes he had enjoyed the galaxy of players which were put at the Scot's disposal.

Mourinho, whose sixth placed side are struggling to reach the top of the table just as Moyes' United did before he was sacked, offered no words of kindness when asked if he felt the task of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson was even greater than his own.

"I don't mind," the Portuguese said. "I wouldn't mind to be at a club with great expectations but to have Ryan Giggs and Chicharito, I think (Nemanja) Vidic still in the team. (Patrice) Evra. I wouldn't mind."

Moyes, whose side are third bottom of the Premier League, has called managing United "the impossible job", though Mourinho rejected that notion, too.

"I don't feel it as a burden," he remarked. "I feel the great history of the club as only a positive thing and not negative. The problem is, if you have the conditions to follow that success of history. And then that's a different story."

The 53-year-old did acknowledge, though, that Moyes had a weaker group of players than Ferguson had at his disposal at United's peak.

"The only thing is Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Giggs and (Nicky) Butt, all those guys 25, 26, 27; it's another thing to have them at 31, 32; another thing it doesn't happen (you don't have them).

"That plays a part so there are generations and in a period when David came the situation was not so easy, not so easy to go in that winning direction."

Mourinho threw his latest grenade at Arsene Wenger during his discussion of today's Boxing Day fixture, implying that it is scandalous the Arsenal boss has escaped FA censure for his comments about referees after the Gunners' defeat to Manchester City last week. Wenger said officials were over-protected like "lions in a zoo," though did not break any rules in doing so.

"I'm not surprised," said Mourinho, who has faced two FA charges this season.

"I can't say more than that. But I'm not surprised. When I read his quotes I felt there would be no problem … for him.

"It doesn't irritate me because I'm not happy with the problems others have. Some people, not just in football but in life, it looks like they are happy, not with the things they get but happy with bad things others get. I'm not like that. I'm not happy other people are in trouble or have problems. I'm just unhappy when I have them. That's it."

The United manager, who has implied that Chelsea have been given an unfair advantage with three festive games in 10 days, rather than the Old Trafford team's three in eight, did offer some support for Moyes.

"I think a manager that's not sacked is not a manager, or at least is not a good manager," he declared. "We have to be sacked! So I think it was just a bad moment in David's career and he has to do what I did, what we all do, move on and he did that.

"After Manchester United he went to Spain, also a different experience for him, then back to England.

"I think he moved on and this is what we have to do and what (Alan) Pardew has to do. He was sacked. They could have sacked him a couple of days later on Christmas Day which would have been even nicer!

"He has to move on, enjoy his family and a new job will arrive. I'm like this. I'm pragmatic. No problem. It's part of football."

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