Embattled Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is expecting a response from his players as they attempt to end another turbulent week with a Premier League victory at Burnley.
The Portuguese mounted a stout defence of his own record on Friday as he insisted he remains “one of the greatest managers in the world”, referencing philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the process.
However, he knows the pressure will continue to build if United do not turn around a season which began with victory over Leicester, but has since seen them lose at Brighton and then 3-0 to Tottenham at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Asked if he sensed a determination within the camp to put things right, Mourinho told the club’s official website: “I do. There are defeats and defeats. A defeat always means zero points, but there are defeats and defeats.
“I think the feeling was a great frustration and a great sense of it (the result against Tottenham) not being fair at all, far from it.
“But during the week, people transform that into motivation to work and once more the week was very, very good.
“We just hope to play as well as we did against Tottenham, but with different luck and a different result.”
United have won at Turf Moor in each of the last two seasons, goals from Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney doing the damage in April last year and Martial’s lone strike securing the points in January.
However, Mourinho is well aware of the threat posed by Sean Dyche’s men, who drew 2-2 on their last visit to Old Trafford having led 2-0 – they also emerged with a point on their previous visit.
Mourinho said: “Matches against them are always difficult. They are competitive, aggressive and fight for every ball. If you are not ready for that, it’s even more difficult for you.”
The United boss was in the crowd on Thursday evening as the Clarets’ Europa League adventure drew to a close with a 4-2 aggregate defeat by Olympiakos, although he is not convinced he will have learned too much to help him on Sunday.
He said: “I knew that they would change the majority of their players and the majority of the players that played will probably be on the bench on Sunday.
“It’s always a good way to have a look and to see the direction they go and try to compare with the things that we watch in video analysis and it’s a good experience.”
Their top stars were never expected to leave, but there was plenty of speculation that Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele would exit the club.
Pochettino has grown tired over the summer of speaking about those three players in particular and embarked on several monologues about the situation, citing any player could leave if they wanted to.
And the Argentinian had his final say on the matter, suggesting that he would have been fine if all his players left.
Asked about Alderweireld’s situation, Pochettino said: “Harry Kane is here, Dele Alli is here, (Victor) Wanyama is here, (Eric) Dier is here, (Fernando) Llorente is here, Alderweireld is here…
“I don’t understand why you focus only on some names.
“Maybe you have some information I don’t have. Or better relations with me than someone.
“If you review all my press conferences when did I say expect this or expect that? Never, why you focus on a few names only?
“I don’t understand rumours about, you know, transfer window closing.
“It’s not a problem if we lose one or two or three. Because we have plenty of players in the academy, no problem.
“I am more than happy. I am more than happy to keep all the players and I am more than happy if they leave and we play with the under-23s.
“It’s not a problem, I promise you. Not a problem for me.”
Pochettino was in a better mood when discussing their stadium situation and will not allow his team to become “victims of circumstances”.
Spurs were due to move into their brand new home in September, but issues with “critical safety systems” have meant they have had to return to Wembley for at least two extra Premier League games and a Champions League encounter.
That has not cured all of their problems as they still do not have a venue for their clash with Manchester City while Spurs announced they have applied to play their Carabao Cup game with Watford at Stadium MK as the national stadium is unavailable on both days.
Pochettino’s men have not let the uncertainty affect them as they have won their first three Premier League games, including a 3-0 trouncing of Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.
And Pochettino hopes the unsettled situation can galvanise his squad.
“The good thing is that we are so positive in the approach and everything that happens,” he said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Watford.
“We are working a lot on being positive rather than being negative on the new things that appear.
“We are trying to be positive and to create a challenge. We are going to play in another different venue – it’s a challenge for us. Come on.
“If we are going to be a victim of the circumstances, we are going to lose. The only way to succeed is to fight.”
It has been 10 years since Abu Dhabi United Group, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, took over the reins at Manchester City and transformed the once struggling outfit into a world power.
City are now the established heavyweights of the Premier League and have access to the best talent on the planet with finances no longer a constraint. But 10 years ago, the scenario was drastically different.
Around this time in 2008, the club was in dire straits with serious question marks over their future. But how grim was the situation?
In a new book by Daniel Slack-Smith that reveals the inside story behind Manchester City’s transformation, club icon Vincent Kompany and other important figures talk about how bad things were and how far the club has come.
“I remember going to the toilet for the first time, and it was two cubicles. One had a door and the other one had the door hanging off, almost,” says Kompany about the Carrington training ground in the book, the excerpts of which were published by the Daily Mail. The 32-year-old Belgian had arrived at City in August 2008, just a week before Sheikh Mansour bought the club from ex-Thailand president Thaksin Shinawatra.
“There was a machine with weights where you couldn’t really lift it because there was so much rust on it. There was a punching bag that was half cut through the middle as if someone came in with a samurai sword. You had one glove to punch it, so you could develop an anomaly on one side from working out that way. And it was cold,” he said.
Pete Bradshaw, City’s director of infrastructure and estates, revealed the club’s finances were a total mess. “We had gone through periods where it was challenging to pay the staff. We could not order stationery. We’d bring pens and pencils from home for a while,” he says in the book.
However once the takeover was complete, Manchester City transformed almost overnight.
“We came back and they’d done one of those things you’d see on Extreme Makeovers or something,” says Kompany. “They’d changed the whole training facility. It was all short-term, makeshift, but it looked a million dollars and it was literally two weeks, which was incredible.”