Jose Mourinho will not chase “impossible targets” and allow Manchester United to be used as a pawn by players and agents this summer.
The winter transfer window may have only shut on Tuesday night but the Portuguese has already made his targets for post-season improvements clear to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann is said to be chief among them and Mourinho will not allow United to stray into the fanciful given the way some have used such interest to better their own situations in recent years.
“I think what we need I am very realistic (about),” the United manager said. “I know what the impossible targets are.
“I don’t like my club to participate in impossible deals. It is a waste of time, it is a gift to these impossible players and to their agents to have a club like Manchester United interested in them.
“It just helps them to improve their situation, but it does not help us at all so I am very realistic, I am very objective.
“My board knows what I think our needs are and from now until the summer, I just focus on my players, our competitions, my club, our fans and try to get the possible results.”
United could certainly do with a player like Griezmann right now given their struggles to translate attacking impetus into goals.
Their 33-goal haul in the league is 12 less than any other top-six side and their lack of bite has cost them numerous wins, with no other side drawing more matches than United’s nine.
Mourinho called for his attacking players to weigh in with more goals ahead of Sunday’s trip to Leicester, with 10 strikes separating Zlatan Ibrahimovic and their second top Premier League scorer.
“I think we attack so much and with so many players, and so many players have the freedom in our dynamic to reach scoring positions,” he said.
“I have to agree with you that we don’t score enough goals and some of our players from these attacking, creative positions they could – they should – score more goals.
“When you see the number of goals we score, there is not a true relation between our attacking production and the number of players we put always in attacking positions and the number of goals we score.”
That lack of cutting edge was evident on Wednesday as United wasted the chance to ratchet up the pressure on the top four when they were held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Hull.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 3, 2017
However, Sunday’s trip to struggling Leicester looks as good a chance as any to get back to winning ways given the way Claudio Ranieri’s men are floundering.
The Foxes’ title win will go down as one of the most remarkable sporting triumphs ever, but their title defence has been even worse than Chelsea’s was last season.
That miserable form cost Mourinho his job in west London, although the Portuguese and Sir Alex Ferguson remain the only managers in the Premier League era to defend the title.
“First of all, I think what Leicester did is one of the big things in the world of football,” the United boss, who will be without Phil Jones due to a foot complaint, said.
“I think nobody, even them, would expect (them) to be champion again.
“What they did was unique, what they did was so unique that Claudio deserved to be named the best manager in the world.
“It was amazing what they did. I don’t think it would be possible to do the second season, especially playing Champions League at the same time. The Champions League is hard.
“They were working one complete season with one match per week, competing against other teams domestically that were playing in the Champions League and not them. That is a big, big, big difference for them.
“So, nobody would expect them – I think not even them – to be fighting for the title again, but the manager is there, the players are there, the team is there and they are a very good team.
“It is a very difficult match for us and I think also a very difficult match for them, but total respect for what they did and total respect for the change of life they have experienced.
“I think next season it will be much better for them again. This is new for them, playing in the Champions League and being champions is a lot.”