Mourinho averse to friendlies in mid-season

Jose Mourinho is in his first season at Old Trafford and is rebuilding the club.
Jose Mourinho is in his first season at Old Trafford and is rebuilding the club.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Scheduling mid-season international friendlies alongside qualification matches makes no sense, says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who recently revealed that he has no intention of becoming the Brazil head coach one day.

Chris Smalling started in England's friendly defeat in Germany but then had to pull out of the squad with a leg injury, while Phil Jones suffered a toe injury in training. With both United defenders missing England's 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Lithuania, he questioned the need for friendlies during the domestic season.

"I am totally against the friendly matches," he told Sky Sports. "I think friendly matches for the national team only make sense before the final phases. But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don't think that makes sense."

With 13 United players involved in international games over the past week, Mourinho said his side were at a disadvantage against eighth-placed West Bromwich Albion when the teams meet in the Premier League tomorrow.

"If you compare our situation with our opponents, West Bromwich Albion, only one player on international duty," the Portuguese added. "They had time to work, time to rest and prepare. It's going to be hard."

United are fifth in the league, four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two games in hand.

Mourinho is in his first season at Old Trafford and is rebuilding the club. In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN Brasil, he acknowledged that there is a job in football that is tougher than his current one.

"I think after Manchester United I need an easier job, and coaching the Brazilian national team would be harder. Obviously it would be great, any coach would want to work in the best teams and national teams," said the 54-year-old.

"There is a coach inside every Brazilian. In every journalist, there is a coach better than the coach. I think it must be a country that's hard to work, but also exciting. But I recognise that the Brazilian national team is for a Brazilian coach."

He also claimed it would be impossible for United to sign Brazil and Barcelona star Neymar.

"To ask for Neymar is absurd," he said, dismissing speculation that the forward is a summer target. "A club like Barcelona cannot and will not lose Neymar... I think (trying to sign Neymar) is like trying to break into a safe, impossible."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho averse to friendlies in mid-season'. Print Edition | Subscribe