Football: Jose Mourinho takes subtle dig at Jurgen Klopp over Paul Pogba comments

Jose frustrated as problems pile up
Burnley's Steven Defour (far left) and Jack Cork closing down Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku in their Premier League game at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Despite his side being held to a second straight draw, Jose Mourinho is happy with their offensive and creative play. PHOTO: REUTERS

Veiled remarks on Reds' van Dijk buy fail to mask concerns over fatigue and lack of spark

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has mischievously highlighted the changing view of Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool spent £75 million (S$135 million) to sign Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk this week.

The Manchester United manager cheekily suggested yesterday that if he were a member of the media, he would ask Klopp about his comments 18 months ago, when the German claimed he would walk away from his job instead of spending huge amounts of money even if it were available to him.

At that time, Klopp was responding to a summer in which United were on the verge of breaking the world record by paying £89 million for Paul Pogba.

"You know, I think the one that speaks about it in a specific way has to be Jurgen," said Mourinho ahead of today's Premier League home match against Southampton.

"And if I was one of you, I would ask him about his comments about one year ago.

"But I'm not speaking specifically about that case because in Liverpool they do what they want to do and I am nobody to comment on what they do.

"The reality is that if they think that the player is the right player for them and they really want the player, they pay this amount or they don't have the player, because that is the way the market is."

Mischievous as Mourinho's comments were, the Portuguese did concede that he has far pressing concerns closer to home with the form of his striker Romelu Lukaku.

After opening his United career with 11 goals in 10 games, Lukaku has scored just four times in his last 19 but has nevertheless been required to play every minute of his club's Premier League campaign due to the continued fitness struggles of fellow striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Worse than that, Lukaku has been involved in errors in his own penalty area in recent weeks that have led to goals for Manchester City and Burnley - an indication, said Mourinho, of possible fatigue.

NO CHOICE BUT KEEP GOING

The other day, I said 19 matches in the Premier League; now I say 20 matches in the Premier League, 90 minutes.

JOSE MOURINHO, United manager, who will not criticise Romelu Lukaku for his shortcomings since he is unable to rest him.

But the United manager refuses to criticise the Belgium striker, not least because he admits that he is unable to offer him any sort of rest in the foreseeable future.

"The other day, I said 19 matches in the Premier League; now I say 20 matches in the Premier League, 90 minutes," Mourinho added.

"I think for a striker, any player, that's absolutely incredible.

"I have to be grateful for his personality and his character. Is he unlucky in our box in recent matches?

"He was in the picture, not a direct influence but he was in the picture in some of the last goals we conceded...

"The guy is fantastic for me and for the team and gives absolutely everything and I've no criticism. But no, I cannot rest him."

Mourinho also insisted that he was not disappointed despite United dropping four points in the 2-2 draws against Leicester and Burnley in just a week.

"We conceded goals but we played very, very well in both matches. We played very offensive and in a very creative way," he said.

"But we didn't score enough goals in relation to what we create, so we were punished by not having great efficiency in both boxes but we played very well in both matches."

Southampton will kick off at Old Trafford on the back of a 5-2 Wembley defeat by Tottenham on Boxing Day.

The Saints have just one win in 11 games, but manager Mauricio Pellegrino revealed that he had been studying United's performance against Burnley in the hope of pulling off a similar success.

"Our target is to bounce back in the Southampton way, to play with more character and be more clinical," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Jose frustrated as problems pile up'. Print Edition | Subscribe