Absentees leave Man United's pre-season in a mess: Jose Mourinho

Manchester United players, including Juan Mata (centre), sign autographs for fans before practice at Drake Field at UCLA in Los Angeles. United, depleted by World Cup absentees, face Italian side AC Milan in an International Champions Cup match at th
Manchester United players, including Juan Mata (centre), sign autographs for fans before practice at Drake Field at UCLA in Los Angeles. United, depleted by World Cup absentees, face Italian side AC Milan in an International Champions Cup match at the Rose Bowl next Wednesday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has admitted Manchester United's preparation for the new season is less than ideal because many of his senior players are resting after the World Cup.

United are in California but without Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and Fred.

De Gea, Matic and new signing Fred are due to join the squad next week before the third tour game against Milan in Los Angeles.

Yet Mourinho said: "The pre-season is very bad. The positive thing is only for the young boys that have a fantastic opportunity to train with us. Next week will come de Gea, Matic and Fred which is good, especially for Fred.

"He is a new player with us, but everything is really bad and then we go to the UK and have to play the Premier League.

"The broadcasters were not nice to us with the Friday match (against Leicester City on Aug 10), which complicates more things.

"So I'm worried because I'm not training (with everyone) and then I go to the Premier League without lots of players."

Mourinho is also without Diogo Dalot, the 19-year-old full-back signed from Porto for £19 million (S$34 million), because of a knee injury and will be out until September.

The consolation for the United boss is that Alexis Sanchez is set to join the pre-season tour after the club confirmed the Chile forward's visa issue has been resolved.

UNITED TRANSFER BUSINESS

I've no idea. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not going to say somebody is coming or nobody is coming.

JOSE MOURINHO , Manchester United manager, evading questions about potential new signings.

Sanchez was absent from United's flight to Los Angeles on Sunday due to what the Premier League side said was an "administrative issue".

It later emerged American authorities had not granted Sanchez a visa, reportedly because the former Arsenal star accepted a 16-month suspended prison sentence in Spain over a tax issue.

Mourinho was also unsure if the club will bring in any further players this summer.

"I've no idea. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not going to say somebody is coming or nobody is coming," he added.

Despite all that is not going well for him, the Portuguese is confident that the euphoria of lifting the World Cup will provide a boost to Pogba's career at United.

The French midfielder was the subject of criticism for some of his performances last season and found himself relegated to the bench at times during the second half of the campaign.

However, the 25-year-old was instrumental in France's triumph in Russia, particularly in the 4-2 final victory, where he netted the third goal against Croatia.

"For Paul, to be a world champion can only be fantastic," Mourinho said.

"I hope that he understands why he was so good. That's the point about his performance level and his contribution to a winning team.

"It's important for him to understand why he was so good in the second part of the competition. In the final, he was absolutely brilliant."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'Absentees leave United's pre-season in a mess: Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe