Jose Mourinho held his pre-Crystal Palace press conference on Friday.
The Manchester United boss was first quizzed about comments he made in a recent interview where he appeared to suggest some of his players lacked character, and refused to give a response to the assembled media.
Mourinho was quoted as saying in the interview with Univision that some of his players “are missing a bit of character and personality”, with those he was referring to reportedly being Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. When asked about that, Mourinho said: “I don’t play your game.”
He revealed that Paul Pogba, who missed the 3-1 loss at Manchester City through injury, was available for Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
Martial, Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini are also all ready to be involved after question marks over whether they would be fit.
Mourinho said Lukaku, who has had a hamstring issue, was “ready, with a little bit of a risk, but ready.”
He then went on to insist United would be in the top four in the Premier League by the end of 2018.
United are currently seven points adrift of Tottenham, who sit fourth, but have eight more games to play by the end of the year, five of which are at home.
Here’s what Mourinho said in full at his press conference on Friday…
On his controversial Univision interview
“I don’t play your game. I don’t play the game of take out of context and do what you want.
“I don’t play the game. I have nothing to say.”
On injury concerns
“Martial stayed with us, he didn’t go to the (France) national team. The national team was aware of his problems and with permission he stayed, he worked really hard on that pre-injury because problems in the muscles around the pubis, they are a dangerous situation and he was in a pre-injury situation.
“He worked really hard. He’s ready for Saturday and he plays. Is he ready to play three in a row in the same week? I don’t know, but the most important match is the next.
“Marouane Fellaini also stayed, no national team, they (Belgium) also let him stay in spite of playing 90 mins against Manchester City, he needed to stay and prepare himself better after such an injury that he had before so Marouane is also good.
“And the boys in the national teams, Marcus Rashford came with a little problem but is ready, Romelu Lukaku is ready, I would say ready with a little bit of a risk but ready and Paul Pogba we knew with this break he would recover from that small muscular injury, so we don’t have players I can say are out of the game tomorrow, we have a huge 23 group to choose for tomorrow.”
On being in the top four by the end of 2018
“I know it’s a big gap but I also know until the end of December if I’m not wrong we have eight Premier League matches to play. Eight Premier League matches, we are speaking about 24 points for us to fight for, and the other ones in the top-four to fight for too, but I believe we are going to be there.
“Of course we need points, results, and we need performances because we also like good performances on top of points and good results. It’s up to us. We were playing well and getting good results until the end of the last period.”
On the defeat to Man City in their last league match
“Of course, we lost the last match but I don’t consider it at all a bad performance and two weeks with a small group of players, waiting for news, good news, bad news, in national teams; no time to work together but we were in a good moment, playing well, so why not stay the same?
“To improve and to get good results, because we need now to get points to jump into the position we are in the championship and next week with the Champions League we need points against Young Boys.
“The supporters cannot do more than what they are doing. We went through a difficult period of results and the supporters were fantastic. They supported the team and in some matches even push the team to different levels than we were at the time. We cannot ask more from them. It’s for us to give them and make them to go to an even better level.”