Belfast Telegraph

Jose goes on attack as critics turn up the heat

By Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho embarked on an extraordinary 23-minute defence of his Manchester United record, telling critics to get real in the wake of their shock Champions League exit and appreciate the challenge of toppling Manchester City.

The Old Trafford giants turned to the Portuguese in a bid to bring success sorely lacking since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

The results were immediate as United lifted the Europa League, EFL Cup and Community Shield in his first season, but the FA Cup is the only silverware they can realistically achieve this term given City's 16-point Premier League lead.

The Champions League had been another avenue of hope until the crushing disappointment of Tuesday's defeat to Sevilla, which led to criticism that Mourinho looked to have initially brushed off ahead of today's FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton. "Hello, hello, I'm alive, I'm here," he told journalists in an exaggerated fashion as he entered yesterday's press conference, answering the first four questions in a standard manner before one on the fans' reaction to the Sevilla loss brought an extraordinary response.

"Fans are the fans, and the fans have the right to have their opinions and to have their reactions," Mourinho said.

"But there is something that I used to call football heritage - I will try to translate from my Portuguese, which is almost perfect, to my English, which is far from perfect.

"But the translation, word for word, is something like football heritage and what a manager inherits is something like the last time Manchester United won the Champions League, which didn't happen a lot of times, was in 2008. The (last) final was 2011."

Then Mourinho, using pre-prepared notes, went through each of United's European seasons since that final against Barcelona in detail before attention turned to the Premier League and wider matters.

The Portuguese used the quote "in every wall is a door" and promised that he is "not going to run away" in the wake of criticism from fans, saying: "I am not afraid of anything, I am not afraid of my responsibilities".

Mourinho also highlighted City's recent success, name-checking some of their established players before adding: "Do you know how many of United's players left the club last season? Look where they play. Where they play, how they play, if they play. That's football heritage."

An initial wide-ranging 12-minute rant to broadcasters was followed by intense questioning over expectations at United.

"We try but the reality is that some clubs, they were ready to win," Mourinho said. "And other clubs are not ready to win, and one thing is to develop a process, to go for the jugular, and another thing is to build a different process.

"But to say that if the clubs are in a better situation than us, if they stop to invest in everything and we do invest in, I would say we are side to side.

"But if they are in a better situation than us and they keep investing the same or more than us, it's difficult. It's as simple as that. It's difficult."

But United invest far more than a club like Sevilla, so while falling short to City is one thing going out to the Spanish side is quite another.

"We went out to a side more successful than Manchester United in the last seven years in Europe," Mourinho said, po-faced.

"We are going (out) to a side that has a huge tradition in knockout competitions, we are going (out) to a side in the Spanish Cup final."

Today's fixtures (3pm unless stated): Premier League: Bournemouth v West Brom, Huddersfield Town v Crystal Palace, Stoke City v Everton, Liverpool v Watford (5.30)

FA Cup Sixth Round: Swansea City v Tottenham (12.15), Manchester United v Brighton (7.45).

Belfast Telegraph


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