The organiser of the International Champions Cup says he understands Jose Mourinho‘s criticism of the pre-season competition.
And, speaking after the 4-1 loss to Liverpool in Michigan at the weekend, which had an attendance of over 100,000, the Portuguese said: “I wouldn’t spend my money to see these teams.”
Regarding that comment, Charlie Stillitano, executive chairman of the ICC’s organisers Relevent Sports, told ESPN: “I understand his point.
“He wants even his players who have personal commitments to be here. And I read into that he wants the best for the fans and the best for us and of course the best for him. He wants his full team.
“There are challenges in a World Cup year. It gets later and later, the season seem to get earlier and earlier and it’s really a challenge for everyone. I think he was just voicing that frustration.
“We are looking at changing the format next year, but it’s a bit cyclical anyway. We might tweak the format, but it’s not a World Cup year, everyone is excited to come and I don’t think we will have anything near the same problem.”
Stillitano added: “I feel like I am president of the Jose Mourinho fan club. There’s probably not a lot a members today.
“I understand the manager, he is frustrated. It was a tough game (against Liverpool) – 100,000 people there to see you lose to your biggest rival.
“Jose has been one of the managers, maybe the top manager – him and Sir Alex Ferguson – to propel this tournament to a new level. I have nothing but admiration for him and what he does.
“Not just Jose, but all the managers will be happy to have their full team with them.”
For the weekend’s game, Mourinho was without the likes of Nemanja Matic, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Diogo Dalot because of injury and Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini, plus England quartet Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, due to holidays being taken after the World Cup.
Anthony Martial was another to miss out, having returned home from the tour to attend the birth of his second child.
Mourinho was quoted as saying by BBC Sport at his post-match press conference: “The atmosphere is good, but if I was them I wouldn’t come.”
He added at his press conference: “I wouldn’t spend my money to see these teams. I was watching on television Chelsea against Inter (Milan, another game in the competition) and the people in Nice decided the beach was better.
“They didn’t go to the game, the stadium was empty.
“I think the passion many Americans have for soccer deserves more. They deserve the best teams and invest to bring the best clubs to the US.
“But we, and some other clubs, were not able to give to the people the real quality football that can attract even more passion in this country.”
Nemanja Matic has been ruled out of the fixture at Old Trafford, with the midfielder on an injury list that also features the likes of Antonio Valencia and new signing Diogo Dalot.
Manager Jose Mourinho has indicated he does not expect some of his stars who have been on post-World Cup breaks to be ready for the game either.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the players likely to be missing against the Foxes.
Having been part of Serbia’s World Cup campaign that ended with a group-stage exit, Matic joined up with United’s pre-season tour just over a week ago and trained with the squad. But he did not play in a subsequent 1-1 draw with AC Milan in California and, after the 4-1 loss to Liverpool in Michigan, it was revealed he had left to undergo surgery on an abdominal injury, with Mourinho saying he was “out for the start of the season”.
A few days earlier, Mourinho said he did not know whether defender Rojo, who played in three of Argentina’s four World Cup games as they reached the last 16, would be joining up with the squad on tour as he had had “some physical problem” at the tournament and was with the club’s medical department.
The full-back limped off in the seventh minute of United’s second match of the tour, a 0-0 draw with San Jose Earthquakes, with an apparent calf problem and the club say the issue is expected to keep Valencia sidelined for for the start of the campaign.
Mourinho said before United’s tour opener against Club America that Dalot, signed in June from Porto, would be unavailable for the start of the season due to injury and that it was expected the defender would be “ready for September”.
Pogba has been on holiday after helping France win the World Cup. The midfielder played in six of Les Bleus’ seven matches in Russia.
Striker Lukaku was another involved in the tournament up to the final weekend as Belgium came third. His tally at the tournament was also six appearances.
Lukaku’s Belgium team-mate Fellaini played five times in Russia, starting on three of those occasions.
There were six appearances at the tournament for Lingard as England came fourth.
The 33-year-old wide man played five times in the Three Lions’ campaign.
Rashford made five substitute appearances and one start for England in Russia. With regard to his post-World Cup break, Mourinho revealed at the weekend the 20-year-old forward, and defender Phil Jones, had decided to “be back a little bit earlier to try and help the team”.
Jones played twice at the tournament, the full duration of England’s losses to Belgium in the group stage and play-off for third place.
Jose Mourinho is under siege from all quarters for his apparent shunning of youth – but the Manchester United boss has found an unlikely ally in British sprinter Adam Gemili.
Mourinho complained that he did not access to ’30 per cent of his squad’ after being forced to rely on his younger players in a 4-1 thumping by Liverpool earlier this week.
His attitude towards them is in stark contrast to Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp – who have both been more than happy to give youngsters some exposure on their pre-season tours.
But Mourinho has been judged unfairly, at least that’s according to former Chelsea academy player Gemili.
The 23-year-old, who won 200m gold at the 2014 European Athletics Championships, was a professional footballer in his teenage years before switching his attention to the track.
Gemili has written on Twitter of Mourinho’s devotion to the younger players while at Chelsea, having been involved in the system during his first stint at the club.