The Portuguese made the surprising – albeit realistic – admission on Friday that table-topping Manchester City’s lead was insurmountable, with second spot the best his side could manage.
United are 13 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men with 12 matches remaining and Mourinho intends to use the rest of the campaign as a catalyst for an improved Premier League title charge next season.
The Old Trafford giants will no doubt be active in the transfer market to aid those hopes, but the Portuguese had pledged not to sign any attackers having made Alexis Sanchez his latest attacking recruit.
Put to him Sanchez played a lot of different positions in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Huddersfield, Mourinho responded: “Exactly that’s the point, that’s the objective.
“The objective is that now we have more number nines (fitted into the side).
“We have Alexis, we have (Romelu) Lukaku, we have (Anthony) Martial, we have (Marcus) Rashford.
“Rashford can play on the left and the right, Alexis is exactly the same.
“All of them apart from Lukaku can play also from behind, they can also play as the second striker.
“That’s why I say that it’s bad for you because you like to have things to write and things to speculate, especially in the summer – but I don’t want attacking players so don’t speak about attacking players that are coming here because nobody is coming here.
“We have (Juan) Mata, Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Alexis – I don’t want attacking players, so speculation in the summer you have to go to other areas.
“But attacking players I am really happy.
“We have to improve not in the quality of the players, we have to improve in the dynamic of the team and in the efficiency because even (Saturday) it is a game to score more goals than two.”
Alexis Sanchez’s game by number’s vs. Huddersfield:
57 (74%) passes completed
9 take-ons completed
5 tackles won
3 shots on target
3 chances created
First goal for United. pic.twitter.com/1va03Qrh6N
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 3, 2018
Ibrahimovic, Lukaku, Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – now at Arsenal – have all arrived to bolster United’s attack since Mourinho’s appointment in 2016.
Paul Pogba remains the biggest deal since the Portuguese succeeded Louis van Gaal, with the midfielder returning from Juventus for a then world-record fee.
The France international has shone this season but a poor display in the midweek defeat at Tottenham was followed by dropping to the bench against Huddersfield.
“The reaction you saw: coming to the pitch with great desire to play,” Mourinho said of Pogba’s response.
“To be honest, at half-time he was already – because I can analyse body language – showing that he was ready.
“Ready with physio, he was already starting his warming up, so I think he showed the way he took it in a very professional way.”
Liverpool‘s club-record signing Virgil van Dijk believes Harry Kane dived to win a penalty in the 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Referee Jon Moss ruled Tottenham’s England international had been brought down after the slightest of touches from goalkeeper Loris Karius after being controversially allowed to play on despite being in an offside position.
Kane missed the penalty but redeemed himself from the spot deep into added time after Van Dijk was adjudged to have fouled Erik Lamela – the striker’s 100th Premier League goal.
However, the world’s most expensive defender thinks Kane was lucky to get the first award, especially after Dele Alli had been booked for diving in the box moments earlier – his third such transgression since his debut in 2015-16.
“I think it is a dive. You see him (Kane) diving clearly and no-one is talking about it but I think it is a dive,” said Van Dijk.
“There is a lot of discussion about whether it is offside, yes or no, but I think it was offside as well.
“You could just see him making that dive. The referee made his decision together with the linesman. It was good for us that it got saved.”
Asked whether he thought Kane should be retrospectively punished the Holland international added: “That is not something for me.
“I thought it was a dive that is my opinion and the referee thought it was no offside and no dive and he gave a pen. Good for us that we saved it.”
Van Dijk was also unhappy with the award of the second penalty when Lamela went down as the Dutchman tried to clear the ball.
“I saw him coming in the end and I try and hold my leg in, he just pulled his body in front of the ball and he goes down,” he said.
“The ref said play on and I was very disappointed that the linesman said otherwise.
“I don’t think that is a penalty, same with the first one. That is also clearly not a penalty.”
The match was an entertaining one for the neutrals with Mohamed Salah’s brilliant second of the match, a twisting, turning effort past three defenders, matched by the power of substitute Victor Wanyama’s piledriver which made it 1-1 at the time.
“It was a good game for the fans to watch. For us obviously we are disappointed that we didn’t get the win in the end,” said Van Dijk.
“There were loads of things going on. I think the most annoying feeling at the moment is we should have won and kept the 1-0.
“It was a good goal from Victor and unlucky that we didn’t win.
“It (Salah’s) was a fantastic goal and to get a penalty (given against) in the last second of the game was not good.
“Everybody should talk about Mo’s goal any way. Everyone can see how good he is and he showed that today as well.”
Mohamed Salah scored a brace for Liverpool but it wasn’t enough to earn the hosts all three points against Tottenham.
Salah opened the scoring and then gave the Reds the lead again in the 91st minute after Victor Wanyama levelled proceedings.
However, Harry Kane dispatched his effort from the spot at the second time of asking with virtually the last kick of the game to make it 2-2 at the final whistle.
KLOPP STARTED WELL BUT LOST HIS WAY
Jurgen Klopp set up his side perfectly with a solid midfield core of James Milner, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson. The Reds were able to outnumber the visitors in the middle of the park and then feed direct balls into their forward line in the transition.
In the second half though, they kept dropping deep and absorbed more and more pressure. Klopp’s decision to throw on another centre-back and switch to a back three to cope with Spurs’ onslaught backfired as they ended up pinned back in their own half and eventually conceded a penalty late on in a crowded box.
SPURS LAUNCH IMPRESSIVE COMEBACK
There’s no question that Liverpool were the better side in the first half. Granted, the hosts may have allowed Spurs a way back into the game by sitting deeper but to the visitors’ credit, they didn’t panic or lose their bearings in what can be an intimidating Anfield atmosphere.
They stuck to their game plan and worked their way back into the match with Victor Wanyama’s equaliser. After Harry Kane was thwarted from the spot by Loris Karius and Mohamed Salah put the Reds ahead in stoppage, Mauricio Pochettino’s side were able to dig deep and rally once again, snatching a dramatic draw at the death.
SALAH DESERVES RONALDO-LIKE TREATMENT
When Cristiano Ronaldo hit his peak at Manchester United he was absolved of defensive duties. The likes of Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick or Owen Hargreaves would shuttle across to the space he refused to track back into.
That’s because he was devastating in attack, critical in a break away and could win a game by himself. Salah is proving to be similarly key to Liverpool and deserves to be given the freedom to do what he does best, hurt the opposition in the final third. With the midfield three Klopp deployed against Spurs, Salah enjoyed such luxury and perhaps should on a more regular basis.