Jose Mourinho admits his major hope from Monday’s derby clash with Manchester City in Beijing is to avoid picking up any injuries in his Manchester United squad.
The United manager held a press conference at the Bird’s Nest Stadium – where the pitch has been widely criticised – and suggested that the result of his first meeting with Pep Guardiola since their days at Real Madrid and Barcelona mattered very little in the grand scheme of things.
“The condition of my players is more important than the results in pre-season. I have only one goal from tomorrow’s match, take the players home safe,” said Mourinho, whose side were beaten 4-1 by Dortmund in the opening match of their Far East tour.
“We cannot just run away and disappear and not play, so we have to play and try to be lucky.
“Normally when we say lucky we say lucky because we want a good result. The result I want tomorrow is to go home without injuries.
“Manchester City have all of their players, we have six, seven or eight, which played in the Euros.
“What I want is to get back to Manchester and train with the full group.”
In reality, Mourinho is missing five players – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian and Bastian Schweinsteiger – while Manchester City are missing Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala and Kevin De Bruyne.
Asked why the club has come to China for pre-season, Mourinho said: “It’s good for the fans and for the commercial side of things. We have a good group, we have a good spirit and we cope with it. Tomorrow is the last day and then it is over.”
Man Utd travel debacle
Mourinho’s frustration at the unfolding situation was visible as he stood pitchside surrounded by hundreds of journalists, a number of whom were wearing United shirts and looking for autographs.
United, like City, trained at the Olympic Sports Centre to preserve the nearby Bird’s Nest pitch, but the increased numbers of accredited media saw him forced outside as the tiny, sweltering press conference room was deemed unsuitable.
It was the latest disruption of a trip impacted by bad weather en route to Beijing on Saturday evening, forcing one of United’s two planes to take an unscheduled stop in Tianjin.
“We were supposed to fly in two different planes and share half of us in one plane and half of us in a second one,” Mourinho said.
“The ones in the first plane were lucky because the plane was great and we land safely and we were in the hotel in good conditions to have dinner.
“The second group was unlucky. The plane was not good, they had a storm and had to land in Tianjin.
“They had to be in Tianjin for about a couple of hours, they sought to come by bus then they got the plane and they arrived in the hotel to have dinner at one o’clock in the morning.
“The group is fine. The people is good. The players are good guys. They had a smile on their faces which is good.”
Mourinho now just wants to cope with the issues around the City match and get back to England safely.
These, he says, are “no conditions to play a good game of football” and believes it now becomes a “double friendly” in order to keep everyone fit and well.