Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says title rivals' 'problems' will be no excuse for failure

Mark Critchley
Jose Mourinho expects Manchester United's rivals to challenge, no matter what happens in the market: Getty

Jose Mourinho does not think that the relatively settled status of his Manchester United squad gives them an advantage over their title rivals at this stage of the new season.

While expects little business to be conducted at Old Trafford during the remainder of the transfer window, questions remain at several other top Premier League clubs, where key players have been linked with moves away and transfer targets are yet to arrive.

Liverpool rejected a renewed £114m offer from Barcelona for want-away Philippe Coutinho on Friday, while Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have seen signs of discontent from Alexis Sanchez and Danny Rose respectively.

At Chelsea, meanwhile, manager Antonio Conte has been frustrated by the club’s transfer activity, having seen key targets move elsewhere and Nemanja Matic, who the Italian described as a “great loss”, leave for Old Trafford against his wishes.

Mourinho, however, does not believe that the current ‘problems’ of United’s rivals will affect them in the long-term and does not think such problems can be used as an excuse should a top club fail to mount a title challenge.

“If they have problems the problems are going to finish in a couple of weeks,” he said. “They have very good teams, very good players and I don’t see any reason for them not to be fighting for the title.

“When people say for example that Chelsea lost an important midfield player, if you lose one but you buy [Tiemoue] Bakayoko and [Leicester City midfielder Danny] Drinkwater for example, what’s the problem? The problem is when you sell and you don’t buy, but when sell and you keep buying what’s the problem? You’re probably even stronger.

Mourinho added: “Every top team in the Premier League is potentially strong enough, with the financial situation, to be fighting for everything. And when everybody’s also in Europe, five in the Champions League and two in the Europa League, you have the top seven teams fighting for everything. All of them are strong.”

United travel to Swansea City on Saturday having opened their Premier League campaign with an emphatic 4-0 win over West Ham United. The margin of victory was large enough to see them top the table after the first round of fixtures last Sunday.

Mourinho did not wish to read too much into that result, insisting that United are not “the dream team” and, despite their frustrations in the market and surprise defeat to Burnley, he still believes his former club Chelsea are still the favourites to win the Premier League title this season on account of their status as champions.

“For me the favourite is the champion always, because for some reason you are the champion. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to win it but it is the stamp that you have. The next season, you are the favourites.

“I’m too stable and too experienced to lose my discipline, to lose my stability and to think that a 4-0 result makes us the best team in the country, the favourites or the dream team. We’re not the favourites, we’re not the dream team, we’re just a team with more confidence than last season, with more time to work, more happiness and more relaxed.

“I just want to think, as I said before West Ham, that we go to every match and we only think about winning that match,” he added, suggesting supporters may have seen the last of Mourinho’s conservative approach when playing away from home against fellow top clubs.

“I don’t go into any match this season thinking that the opponent is better than us, we are going to try and have a point. Probably a point would be an amazing result [at times], but we are not going to any match thinking that way. We got to every match to try to win. If we win, we win. If we don’t win, we don’t win.”