The Portuguese tactician has already written off his team’s chances of winning the title this season.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho asserted that he believed his side could break into the top four by December. Ahead of the clash against Crystal Palace FC, Jose was found to be rather frank in the press conference and the 55-year-old spoke on a variety of topics including Anthony Martial, Alexis Sánchez and Eric Bailly and their respective futures at the club.
Mourinho is under the impression that Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez who has had a rough patch at Old Trafford, would not leave in the winter transfer window in January. Alexis hasn’t seen plenty of game-time at United, he has started just one out of last six Premier League games and was left on the bench in the 3-1 loss to Manchester City just before the international break.
Alexis hasn’t looked even half the player he was at Arsenal and the general feeling surrounding the Chilean’s camp is that of frustration and dissatisfaction. Mourinho believes that Sanchez is working hard in training and it’ll bear results soon.
“He is improving like the team is improving,” said the United manager. “When he plays he is giving us his personality, his desire to play and to produce for the team and trying to adapt to how we play and vice versa, can he do better? I think we can all do better.”
Despite believing that Sanchez will stay for the remainder of the season, Mourinho has made it clear that he will not stand in the way of a player who is unhappy. “That’s me, that is a personal thing related to my philosophy”, he said.
Jose also spoke about his team’s chances and that he and the side need to improve their performances. “I know it’s a big gap. But I also know until the end of December we have eight Premier League matches to play, and with eight matches we are speaking about 24 points. I believe we are going to be there.” Manchester United are currently at the eighth position on the Premier League table, seven points off the Champions League qualification spots.
24-year-old Ivorian defender Eric Bailly has also been linked with a move away from United as he has fallen down in the pecking order. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof have led the backline this season and Eric Bailly hasn’t started a game since the 3-2 victory over Newcastle United FC almost a month ago where he was substituted after United went down 2-0 after 19 minutes. He was also left out of the matchday squad against Manchester City.
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Defence has been a worry for Jose’s side and if Manchester United concede against Crystal Palace, they would equal a Premier League club record of allowing a goal for a ninth consecutive game. “The situation is that we have five central defenders,” said Mourinho. “It’s a little bit difficult to find the best combination, not just related to their qualities but also related with the injury situation.”
Mourinho said he will continue to put his faith on the duo of Smalling and Lindelof. “Chris is very good in the air, very tall, he is dominant in the air. Victor, in the building up, is better than Chris so we found this balance and I again repeat they are not perfect, nobody is perfect but that couple is performing quite well.”
Jose also made it clear that Anthony Martial – the side’s top scorer this season, is fit for the game against Crystal Palace. Martial scored the solitary goal that United managed against Manchester City from the penalty spot but he had also picked up a knock during the game. “Anthony stayed with us, he didn’t go to the national team, the national team was aware of his problems and with permission he stayed, he worked really hard on that,” Mourinho said, referring to the French forward’s muscle problems.