Jose Mourinho has launched an impassioned defence of his Manchester United record, once again drawing on the side’s poor European record in the years before his arrival.
The Red Devils boss has battled hard against his critics after his side’s surprise Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla in midweek – and in a twelve minute tirade, complete with notes, Mourinho insisted that he will not shy away from the challenge of getting Man United back to the top of European football.
Mourinho caused outrage among some of the Man United fan base when he reflected on two previous Champions League second round exits – both of which were caused by him in the opposite dugout – in a poor attempt at self-preservation.
Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Brighton, the former Porto and Real Madrid boss drew on Man United’s poor record in Europe since their last Champions League final in 2011 – insisting that the lack of ‘football heritage’ he inherited at Old Trafford means that it should not be a surprise that the club crashed out at an early stage once again:
“I say to the fans that the fans are the fans and have the right to their opinions and reactions but there is something that I used to call football heritage.
“I try to translate from my Portuguese, which is almost perfect, to my English, which is far from perfect, football heritage. And what a manager inherits is something like the last time Manchester United reached the Champions League in 2011. Since 2011, 2012 out in the group phase, the group was almost the same group we had this season, Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati from Romania. Out in the group phase in 2013, out at Old Trafford in the last 16, I was on the other bench [with Real Madrid]. In 2014, out in the quarter-finals.
“In 2015, no European football. In 2016, comes back to European football, out in the group phase, goes to Europe League and on the second knockout out of the Europa League. In 2017, play Europa League, win Europa League with me and goes back to Champions League.
“In 2018, win the group phase with 15 points out of a possible 18 and loses at home in the last 16. So in seven years with four different managers, once not qualify for Europe, twice out in the group phase and the best was the quarter-finals, this is football heritage.
“And if you want to go to the Premier League, the last victory was 12/13 and in the four consecutive seasons United finish seventh, fourth fifth and sixth. So in the last four years the best was fourth. This is football heritage. It means that when you start the process you are here, you are there or you are there, is heritage. And if the fans that I will always respect, always respect, if the fans and many of them are the ones you speak with, many of them are the ones I speak with and I am very lucky but the ones who speak with you are very disappointed and the ones I speak with know what is football heritage, what is a process and when I arrive.”
WATCH: Jose Mourinho cites @ManUtd‘s recent European record to defend his sides Champions League exit to Sevilla FC this week. ??
Does he have a point or is he diverting attention from the midweek loss? ?
— Sky Sports PL (@SkySportsPL) March 16, 2018
Mourinho went on to decry years of underinvestment at Man United – particularly in relation to Manchester City – but bullishly defended his record at the club and let it be known that he is going nowhere, nor is he changing his mentality:
“I am not going to run away or disappear or to cry because I heard a few boos. I’m not going to disappear from the tunnel, running immediately. The next match I will be the first to go out. I am not afraid of my responsibilities.
“So they [critics] can be together. I understand that for many years it was really hard for the people who don’t like me because it is: ‘Here he is again, here he wins again.’
“For 10 months I win nothing, the last title that I won was 10 months ago, I beat Liverpool, Chelsea, I lose against Sevilla and now is their moment to be happy. I learn in my religious formation, be happy with others’ happiness; so be it, I am a really happy guy.”
Man United take on Brighton this weekend in an FA Cup quarter final that now has added significance in the wake of the side’s European exit, as it is now the only trophy that they can still win in what has become an increasingly frustrating campaign.