United 'miss belief' but Mourinho gunning for top honours next season

United 'miss belief' but Mourinho gunning for top honours next season

Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United will be
better prepared to challenge for "big things" next
season but insists he has no problems with the
squad he inherited from Louis van Gaal.
United held out for a 0-0 draw at Manchester City
on Thursday, despite a late red card for Marouane
Fellaini, and remain firmly in the hunt for
Champions League qualification.
They will secure a return to Europe's premier
competition irrespective of their domestic finish if
they can claim Europa League glory, with the first
leg of a semi-final at Celta Vigo on the agenda
next week.
However, United have been distant from the
Premier League title race and, even allowing for an
ongoing 24-match unbeaten run in the top flight,
Mourinho feels his players are short of resilience
and belief.
"The group was a nice group, honestly. Good
people, good boys – committed people," he said.
"I think Mr Van Gaal left here a good group of boys
with very good relations with them and that I got in
my hands.
"I think they miss happiness, they miss trust, they
miss belief. They miss this extra bit that brings you
resilience, brings you fight and they have it.
"When we meet again on July 9 for next season it
will be a stronger group. The new players, when
they arrive, will find a group more ready to go for
big things.
"But the reality is that we are fighting to win the
Europa League and we are fighting to finish fourth.
So, let's go."
United will do so while grappling with an extensive
injury list.
Top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a cruciate
knee ligament injury against Anderlecht last week,
as did Marcos Rojo in the same game to join fellow
defenders Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (broken
toe) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (dislocated
shoulder) on the sidelines.
Paul Pogba missed the Manchester derby due to a
hamstring problem and he will remain out when
Swansea City visit Old Trafford on Sunday, with
Fellaini's ban further compromising Mourinho's
midfield options.
Before facing City, Mourinho seemingly questioned
Smalling and Jones' commitment due to them
being unwilling to play through their injuries but he
feels the collective ordeal could be character-
building for his players.
"We arrive into an extreme situation where I think
it must be unique in football – two cruciate
ligaments in the same match," he said.
"In my career I had one [of my players suffer this
injury] in 17 years and now against Anderlecht I
have two in one match. We are very unlucky, that
is the only thing I can say.
"Then the other injuries – the Pogba one, Antonio
Valencia last week – are the injuries of fatigue,
from an accumulation of matches that is normal.
"Smalling and Jones were in the English national
team, training.
"Maybe it is an opportunity to make the team
mentally stronger. Maybe it is a blessing. So, let's
see if they can come back."
Mourinho could be boosted by Juan Mata returning
from a hernia operation ahead of schedule. The
Spanish playmaker had been expected to miss the
rest of the season.

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