Jose Mourinho has had another dig at Arsenal and Liverpool, suggesting they are not at clubs big enough to make a signing like Manchester United’s capture of Paul Pogba.
Last Friday United manager Mourinho branded his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp “not ethical” after they questioned the fee the Red Devils were reportedly set to splash out on bringing midfielder Pogba back from Juventus.
And following United’s announcement in the early hours of Tuesday morning that the Pogba deal was officially done, Mourinho told MUTV: “I know the discussion, I understand that, sometimes in football, things happen and the club breaks the record, but this is only possible at clubs like Man United.
“When I heard some of the comments and heard some of the managers criticising that, I don’t think they ever have this problem because, to have this problem, you need to be at one of the top clubs in the world. So at Man United it can happen.”
While Mourinho feels the “unbelievable” Pogba “has everything”, he has stressed it may take time before the 23-year-old France international is fully firing in the United side and has vowed to “protect” him if needed.
“He’s a very young player, an unbelievable midfield player with such physicality but, at the same time, such agility, co-ordination, skill. He has everything,” the Portuguese said.
“What he has to learn now is how to play with us because I always say that in football you can be a super player, like he is, but a team is a team and you need to learn how to play in the team, and the team needs to learn how to play with you.
“We need to get the best out of him and this will be a process. So if he needs protection, I am here to protect.
“I know some people think that he arrives here now and, the first time he touches the ball, he scores, but I’m here to protect him and give him the best conditions to be what we think he is going to be, which is a football player for Man United, a reference for this club. I’m so happy.”
Four years on from leaving for Juve, Pogba has returned to United as one of the biggest stars in the game.
Asked if the player seemed happy to be back in Manchester, Mourinho replied: “I can feel that when I speak with him for the first time. I’m feeling now when I see him at the training ground with people he knows since he was a kid. He doesn’t look like a star.
“He looks like a kid who is back to his old school and is finding people that he cares about and people that love him a lot.
“So I believe that, after a couple of days, he will feel like he never left the club. So I think at adaptation level, he’s not a new player – he’s just a kid back home again.”
Mourinho – who has also signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitarayan and Eric Bailly following his appointment as boss in May as he looks to revive United – added that he is “really happy” with his squad.
“It’s the first time I’ve worked with such a number of players because I’m used to working with 20 plus the keepers, and we have in the squad 23 plus the keepers – and even so we had to make decisions and let some players go on loan, and try to sell others,” said Mourinho.
“But this group of 23 is a great group and I think in this moment – and I told them this – there is a little bit of frustration for the ones that I have not selected.
“They work hard to be in the match and they aren’t, and this is going to happen in the next two or three weeks because we have just one Premier League match.
“But, in September, the Capital One Cup starts, the Europa League starts, we start playing three matches a week and then everybody is involved and the squad is good. The empathy between the guys is really good too, so I’m happy with the squad.”
Mourinho is set to let midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger leave as well as a group of other players also not involved in Sunday’s Community Shield win over Leicester.