Jose Mourinho insisted foundations rather than fixtures and fittings are what Manchester United need to focus on to get their house in order.
After the disappointment of Wednesday’s Champions League loss to Valencia, United must try to bridge a 16-point gap when they travel to Anfield on Sunday to take on Premier League leaders Liverpool.
While the Jurgen Klopp revolution continues to move forward apace, United are fighting to remain in touch with the top four.
Asked how far away United are from being a team in their manager’s image, Mourinho said: “Far.”
Comparing the health of the two clubs to a house, he said: “It’s not just about the money they spent in the summer, it’s about many things. A football team is more than that. A football team is a little bit like a house.
“A house is not just about buying new furniture, you have to do work in the house, and when the house is ready, then you buy the furniture, you spend money on the best possible furniture, and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.”
Mourinho is not being helped by worsening injury problems, with nine players either doubtful or ruled out of Sunday’s clash.
Among those are six defenders – Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof – while Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay are also doubts and Alexis Sanchez definitely sidelined.
Mourinho said: “All of them didn’t train yesterday again. Today there will be a little introduction to see the answer and to see if we can increase a little bit tomorrow to have them available for Sunday. I hope some will be available but for sure some will not be.”
A round-up of all the team news ahead of Sunday's match. #MUFC— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 14, 2018
The players given a chance by Mourinho in Valencia, including Paul Pogba, did not make convincing cases to be included but, despite his selection problems and the respective form of the two teams, Mourinho insisted he would be going to Anfield targeting the three points.
“I’m going to try,” he said. “We know that we are going to play against the leader, against a team on a high. But we have our qualities, we have our potential, and even with the problems we have and the doubts in terms of team choice, of tactics, approach, philosophy.
“We have doubts about everything because we don’t know who’s available but we are going to arrive on Sunday and, with the players we have available, we are going to have a team capable of going there and fight for the victory.”
United have a decent recent record against their bitter rivals having not lost in five but Mourinho was heavily criticised for a negative approach in last season’s goalless draw at Anfield.
“We got two positive results against Liverpool last season,” said the United boss. “But that was the past. Sunday has nothing to do with what happened in the past.
“I have to focus not on what happened, not on the credit we were given or not, I have to focus on the next match. The next match is the one that is important.”
Know more about Sport360 Application
Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has revealed the advice he received from legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Neville has gone into management as well and is the current head coach of the England Women’s football team.
“Well I think that the biggest bit of advice he ever gave to me was to be a manager you’ve got to take risks,” he said in an interview with CNN’s World Sport.
“To be a manager you’ve got to gamble.”
However, Ferguson was renowned for his people skills and man management so it’s no surprise getting that right also featured as part of the Scot’s wisdom.
“To be a manager you want to win things and you’ve got to do both of the maybe sometimes at the same time and be brave, be bold, but be humble in everything that you do, and from the kit man to the physio to your best player to your youngest player make sure you treat everybody the same,” Neville recalled.
“They’re two bits of probably simple advice but maybe the simpler is sometimes the best that I’ve took on board”.”
Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has leapt to Jose Mourinho’s defence amid criticism of the results under the current manager.
Neville believes that the Portuguese’s track record speaks for itself and should command the utmost respect.
“His record, the amount of trophies he’s won, the clubs he’s won at means that he deserves the utmost respect,” he said in an interview with CNN’s World Sport.
“Away from my day job at the FA, I grew up a Man United fan so I want them to do well and I want Jose to do well.”
Neville, now the head coach of the England Women’s football team, was part of David Moyes’ backroom staff when the Scot took over from Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I watch and I admire him [Mourinho], and think at this moment in time as a manager you go through difficult spells. I was involved at Man United when David Moyes was here so I saw a manager go through a difficult spell.
“I went to Valencia (also as a coach) and I played under five managers.
“Management is really tough, and obviously at the moment United are going through a difficult moment you know, but for all those difficult moments you get great moments, and I’m sure Jose will return United to the place where I think they should be and that’s at the top”.