Jose Mourinho said that Man United have signed Romelu Lukaku because they needed a target man. Answering a question about a possible return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester, he said that it looks a mission impossible to him.
Manchester United started their U.S. 2017 tour with a 5-2 win against Los Angeles Galaxy. Mourinho tried a formation with 3 defenders said during the post-match press conference that United “trained for 5 days and in these 5 days, we trained for two days in the relation to this system”. The Portuguese manager has also explained that his team’s development should be measured by “4 hours of work” so “I couldn’t expect much better, it’s something we have to keep working on in case during the season we decide to play three at the back. We did it twice against Rostov and maybe we want to do it more times”.
Manchester United played with different formations in each half.
First half: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Lingard, Mata, Rashford.
Second half: J. Pereira, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Bailly, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah (Mitchell 85), Pogba, A. Pereira, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Lukaku. Subs not used: Romero, McTominay.
“Lukaku was difficult to get”
In his pre-match press-conference, Jose Mourinho told the media that it was difficult to sign Romelu Lukaku, but bringing a world-class target man has been his highest priority, this summer. He explained that the Lukaku’s goalscoring record in the Premier League makes him the perfect offensive signing for the Red Devils.
“He is from the Premier League. Obviously there are other good strikers in football, but the Premier League is a very specific habitat. A difficult habitat for strikers and normally they need some time to adapt, but Lukaku has been in the Premier League for five seasons. Now he comes to a club with different responsibilities in the right moment of his career. He is still a young player but he has years of experience in the Premier League and the Belgian national team”, said Mourinho about his new No 9.
The Man United manager also added that Lukaku wants to play in the Champions League, which was a strong motivation for him to move to Old Trafford. “Lukaku is not a player that participates a lot in the build-up play. He is a player that normally plays in the last third. We had so many opponents last season that decided clearly to defend, closing spaces, playing with lots of defenders and defensive midfield players”, explained Mourinho his decision to sign the Belgian striker.
He thinks that the club needed a target man “which is not Martial or Rashford” and added that United have “good options, good players, but a target man, a clear number nine, one who is comfortable to play in the box, we thought that was Romelu”.
The manager has described his relationship with Lukaku, after he has taken the managerial post at Manchester United as “always very close, in spite of it not working very well for us together”, said that Lukaku is a polite and that both “have always kept a good feeling”.
Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford – a “economic difficulty”!
Speaking about a possible Cristiano Ronaldo return to Manchester, Mourinho and pointed to an “economic difficulty” which prevents such transfer.
“I am not going to get my club to waste time on players who are mission impossible. Ronaldo is such an important player for his club. A player of great economic power. We have not been able to find any reason that could have made us think that Ronaldo could leave”, explained Mourinho and also added that he has always been skeptical that Alvaro Morata, the other Real Madrid striker, who was linked to Man United move, was possible to sign.
Mourinho confirmed that United have been in negotiations with Real Madrid to sign Alvaro Morata, but were unable to reach an agreement with Los Blancos.
“It is a shame. He is a player who made it to the first team with me and I have a special liking for. I enjoyed watching his evolution in Juventus and Madrid. But we have not reached an agreement with his club and I don’t think he can end with us”, explained the Portuguese.
He said that he will continue developing Marcus Rashford and that he believes that Ashford will be scoring more goals in season 2017/2018, compared to the previous one. “Last season in this period everyone was saying it would be difficult for me to play him but he was one of the top appearance-makers of the team last season which is good for his evolution. He played in the Europa League, important matches, and he’s learning a lot. He’s a great pro, has a great attitude and last season he maybe was not scoring a lot of goals and missing some chances but it was not a drama because that’s part of the evolution. We know he is going to score more goals than last season”, is Mourinho’s projection for Ashford’s game.