Football: Nemanja Matic was always my first choice and not Eric Dier, says Jose Mourinho

Manchester United's Nemanja Matic
Manchester United's Nemanja MaticPHOTO: REUTERS

(GUARDIAN) - Jose Mourinho has stated he always wanted Nemanja Matic ahead of Eric Dier, despite the Tottenham midfielder apparently telling Mauricio Pochettino that Manchester United's manager was an admirer of his.

Mourinho signed Matic from Chelsea in the summer for about £40 million (S$71.6 million), having also had an interest in Dier.

Both are set to face one another in Saturday's early kick-off at Old Trafford.

"I have the player that I want to have, probably I have the player I didn't think it was possible to have, but we got the player I really wanted," Mourinho said.

Pochettino has said that Mourinho waited to have a conversation with Dier after last season's corresponding fixture.

Tottenham's manager wrote in his book Brave New World, " Mourinho and I had finished our interviews at Old Trafford (after Spurs' 1-0 defeat by United ) and the players were doing their warm-down on the pitch. When Jose was done with the press, he stood by the entrance to the tunnel and regarded the returning players.

"He greeted Moussa Sissoko and hugged Dier. They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat.

"'Are you friends with Mourinho?' I asked him. 'No, but I've known him a long time, from my time in Portugal - one of his godsons coached me. He always says hello.'

"As for the Mourinho incident, 'What could I have done?' Eric asked me. He told me about United's interest since last summer (in 2016) and I explained the situation to him clearly: 'Look, you aren't leaving because you signed a five-year deal with us in August. You're among the highest-paid players at Tottenham at the age of 22. You're important to us and you could become the best centre-back in the Premier League.'

"Ever since that conversation, Eric admits that he could have waited for Mourinho to be out of sight before heading to the dressing room."

One player whose future at United is in jeopardy is Luke Shaw, who fears he will not be given a chance by Mourinho to rescue his career.

The England left-back praised Pochettino, who was his manager at Southampton, in the Argentinian's book.

Mourinho has no issue with this.

"If you want to speak about his words, I would be very disappointed if his words were different. I am always disappointed when a player, because he has a new manager, the new manager becomes the best and the old manager becomes very bad, and football is full of examples of (the) lack of character.

"Luke Shaw was just honest. The manager that helped him come to the first team, the manager that helped him develop in the best moment of his career, is the manager he doesn't forget, a manager he likes a lot, a manager that maybe one day he would like to be reunited again so for me, the perfect words that show Luke Shaw's character in relation to the people he was happy with."

Mourinho admitted Shaw's chances of a recall were remote.

"He has a future here, but the situation is not easy because he comes (back) from injury after injury after injury, he needs two, three, four, five or six matches in a row to play, to make mistakes, to get condition, to get match fitness and I cannot give him that," he said.

"If he was a central midfielder, then yes, because we only have two but at left-back, we have so many options, so the situation is not easy. But he is in the squad, he works and maybe the opportunity comes."

Phil Jones is available to face Spurs and Eric Bailly may also return, following both centre-backs' respective injuries.

"Eric let's see," Mourinho said. "One more training session but he's the only one from the injured group that can be ready."