Jose Mourinho has said it could take some time for Man United to move on from the Louis van Gaal era in terms of their brand of football.
Mourinho took over as United boss in May as successor to the sacked Van Gaal, under whom the Red Devils had been playing a widely-criticised style labelled by many as dull.
When asked ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield clash with Leicester about United’s players making a transition from that, Mourinho was keen to stress his own philosophy was simply “different” to Van Gaal’s rather than better.
But the Portuguese – who has so far signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly this summer and looks set to add Paul Pogba imminently – did also remark the process of change would be easier if he could have “20 new players and start from zero”.
Mourinho said: “My teams are different to Mr Van Gaal’s teams.
“I want to make it clear that I am not saying my teams are better or have better ideas or my principles of play are better. Not at all.
“My teams are different to Mr Van Gaal, and it is a difficult situation to change the dynamics.
“It would be easier for me to have 20 new players and start from zero. For two years, they had some principles of play that are not mine – clearly, they are not.
“But the players are players and, without losing their identity, they always try to adapt to what the manager wants.
“Of course, after two years of work, there are things in their brain that are automatic, and that is difficult to change. But we are working hard and the players are trying everything.
“Of course, we make mistakes and we are far from perfection, but they are giving everything to adapt, and step by step my team is going to be my team.”
United’s pre-season has consisted of a friendly win at Wigan and then a troubled trip to China featuring a loss to Borussia Dortmund and the cancellation of a fixture against Manchester City, followed by victory over Galatasaray in Gothenburg and a draw with Everton in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial at Old Trafford.
Mourinho only had players who participated in Euro 2016 involved in the last two fixtures and has expressed concern about the way preparations have gone in the build-up to United’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth on August 14.
When asked how he viewed Sunday’s game at Wembley in terms of its importance as a trophy opportunity, or a fitness exercise, he said: “Everything is important.
“Our pre-season was strange – good for some players but not enough for others. The number of matches was not enough. The match not played against Man City was really bad for us. The week of work, which I can change and say the week of no work, in China was really bad for us, so we need to train and we need to play. We need minutes for the players.
“We need to train against other teams like we did against Everton and Galatasaray, but that is over. Now we have no chance to train against other teams. Now we have Leicester before the Premier League and it is not a training session against another team – it is a game.
“I think especially for the players that were involved last season, for them it must have a meaning, because to play in the Community Shield you need to be champion or have won the FA Cup, and they won the FA Cup. So I think we have to face it as a game.
“We have six changes, not three, so that gives me the chance to give minutes to some people, a chance to play with some players who I know cannot have the condition to play for 90 minutes, so it will be a little bit of everything – and, of course, we will try to win it.”
Zlatan wants to catch ’em all
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, has made it clear he sees the match as one with a legitimate piece of silverware on the line.
The Swedish striker told MUTV: “I believe it’s the first trophy game against Leicester. One game, one trophy. I’m used to winning trophies. I didn’t come here to waste time.
“That is the first trophy we will bring home. For me, every trophy is very serious. I have collected 30 trophies and I want to collect more of them. I’m not satisfied until I collect everything.”