Mourinho says Manchester United ‘better equipped’ for title bid

Manchester United are “better equipped” to win the Premier League this season but have to be “much, much better” to challenge for the Champions League, says manager Jose Mourinho.

United won the League Cup and Europa League and finished sixth in the league in Mourinho’s first season in charge.

Asked if he was targeting the domestic title this season, he told BBC Sport: “We are better prepared for that.”

United have signed Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof so far this summer.

“This season is going to be more difficult but I think we have better conditions to fight for the Premier League,” Mourinho told BBC Sport.

“I think this season we are a little bit better equipped. We are against fantastic teams, against amazing investments.

“But I believe in our group, in our spirit, in our empathy, in our togetherness. I trust my boys and we are going to try.”

As Europa League holders, United qualified directly for the Champions League group stage.

“We went to the Europa League as one of the top teams, we go to the Champions League and we are not one of the top teams,” Mourinho added.

“We have to be better, much better, for that objective. The base of everything is to find what I call a happy dressing room.”Mourinho has confirmed for the first time that he is still looking to sign a midfield player and a wide attacker.

Speaking at a news conference before his side’s friendly against Barcelona in Washington at 19:30 on Wednesday (00:30 BST Thursday), Mourinho said no progress had been made.

The Portuguese has been linked most heavily with midfielders Nemanja Matic and Eric Dier, of Chelsea and Tottenham respectively, and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic.

Mourinho said: “I am happy with my squad but I would like to have two more players. One midfield player would give me more options.

“The other is an attacking player through the wings to give me more attacking options.”

He added he was “calm” about the situation and was “waiting for good news” from United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Mourinho has previously told Woodward he would understand if he only managed to secure one more signing this summer.United sold record goalscorer and club captain Wayne Rooney to Everton earlier this month – and Mourinho says other players must now step up.

“Wayne was a very positive influence,” he said. “We cannot say we are going to improve the group because Wayne left. No way. Or the other way around.

“He was such an important guy and good guy for us. I just think it is a new period without that face, without that leader.

“And now it is time for other people to come up.”

Midfielder Michael Carrick, 35, has succeeded Rooney as club captain.

Mourinho said: “Knowing that probably it is Michael Carrick’s last year, the people that are behind him, they have to prepare themselves for that.”

So can that new leader be 24-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba?

“I would say he is the leader of the young guys,” said Mourinho. “He is probably the oldest of the young guys.

“He has big experience at such a young age, at the same time he’s still the kid that come from the academy, the way he is in the club, the way he is in the group, in the training ground.

“He is still that kid from the academy but with his experience, with his status and with his quality on the pitch, where he is also a key player for us, I think Paul has conditions to be in a couple of years such an important guy in the club.”

Pogba, who rejoined United for a world record £89m in 2016, added: “I came here to hopefully be a leader. That is how it should be.

“I want to grow up as a leader and a player as well. I can learn from the older players and become a leader.”United have spent £106m this summer to sign Everton striker Lukaku (£75m) and Benfica central defender Lindelof (£31m).

Manchester City took their spending beyond the £200m mark by signing Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy on Monday, while Chelsea have also spent more than £100m.

Mourinho says the fees being spent are “amazing”.

“This season we spent a lot of money on a striker. If we don’t do that, we have no striker,” he said.

“It is obvious that nowadays, especially for the strikers, the amount of money is amazing.

“Next season we are not going to spend a lot of money on a striker. This season we had to do it. Investment is overall and it is every team.”

Source: BBC