Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho expects his players to raise their game when they return to action for the first time since the news of Sir Alex Ferguson having an emergency operation on a brain haemorrhage.
The 76-year-old former United boss continues his recovery in intensive care in a Salford hospital after the surgery on Saturday.
Former United midfielder Ryan Giggs accepts Ferguson’s rehabilitation is probably “not going to be easy,” but feels the strength of character from his old manager will prove key.
Mourinho was holding a press conference ahead of Thursday’s Premier League match at West Ham, when he was asked about the former United manager, who won 38 trophies during his Old Trafford tenure.
“His family asked for privacy and that is what I am going to respect,” Mourinho said. “But (as a club) we are positive. We are very, very positive. We are confident.”
Jose on Sir Alex: "His family asked for privacy and that is what I am going to respect. But [as a club] we are positive. We are very, very positive." pic.twitter.com/qWMGxjECHv— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 9, 2018
Asked if it would influence the mood of the players or United coaching staff going into Thursday night’s match at the London Stadium, Mourinho replied: “No, I can only think that if there is any relation, it is a positive relation.”
Gestures of support continue for the Scot, who retired in 2013 having guided United to some 13 Premier League titles as well as five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.
Wales manager Giggs was brought into the United first-team by Ferguson as talented 17-year-old in 1991.
The winger developed to become a key player in a squad which would go on to complete a famous Treble when lifting the European Cup trophy in 1999, before later making the move into coaching which saw him take temporary charge in April 2014 following David Moyes’ departure.
Giggs, who eventually left Old Trafford in July 2016, echoed the sentiments of former players under Ferugson, whom he felt now brings football together in support for his recovery.
“You’ve seen the response, not just from within football but from people all around the world. It shows how much he means to people. I’m not surprised,” Giggs, speaking at the launch of the FAW and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards, told Press Association Sport.
“No matter who you support you’ve got to recognise what he’s done for the game.
“Like everyone I was shocked to hear the news, I was with him just a couple of weeks ago at a dinner.
“I know him better than most and I’m wishing him a speedy recovery. Hopefully he recovers fully and wishes go to Cathy and the family.”
Giggs, appointed Wales manager in January, believes Ferguson’s strength of character will help him through the recovery process.
“It’s not going to be easy, but he’s a strong person. I’ve seen that close at hand, ever since I met him at 13 years old,” said Giggs.
“He’s had a huge influence on not just my career, but my life. Wishes and prayers to him and I hope he makes a full recovery.”
Eric Cantona joined the words of support for the recovery for his former manager, appearing in a short video clip on posted on Twitter declaring: “It’s Fergie time and you will win. You always do.”
Former France striker Cantona proved a pivotal signing when Ferguson bought him from Leeds for £1.2million in late November 1992 as United went on to win the inaugural Premier League title.
“This friend of mine, he is not doing too well,” Cantona said in a video on Eurosport’s official Twitter feed captioned: The Commissioner of Football.
“He is like a mentor to me, he nurtured me, he never judged me.
“He is such a fighter, he will pull through. It is Fergie time, and you will win. You always do.”
Moyes replaced Ferguson as manager at United, and revealed he was “devastated” when he heard the news.
Now in charge of West Ham and preparing to face his former club, Moyes is heartened by the positive reports regarding Ferguson’s recovery.
“We were devastated when I heard the news after the game on Saturday coming back from Leicester,” Moyes said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
“But if the news is correct and Sir Alex is doing well, we are thrilled, we really are.
“We have been thinking about him and his family, I know them all well.”
Moyes added: “I’ve not heard any more other than picking up bits and pieces from the media.
“I just hope he is sitting up in bed watching this news conference.”
– Ryan Giggs was speaking at the launch of the 2018 FAW & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards. Nominate any deserving grassroots heroes at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards