LONDON • Jose Mourinho admitted that it might be some time before Manchester United could be regarded as one of Europe's elite teams again because of their failure to match the continental mainland's big spenders in the transfer market.
Following Tuesday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Burnley at home, the Portuguese made clear his frustrations with the United board over their failure to spend more during the summer transfer window.
Despite signing Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof for a combined total of around £146 million (S$262.4 million), the United manager still thinks his squad lack the quality to compete with the likes of Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola spent almost £220 million on six new City players, including full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, who could eventually cost the club more than £100 million.
When it was put to Mourinho that eight points from their past five games were not good enough for a club of United's standing, he snapped: "When you say a big club like Manchester United, do you think AC Milan is not as big as us?
"You think Real Madrid, Inter Milan is not as big as we are? There are many big clubs. I know what a big club is. One thing is a big club and another thing is a big football team. They are two different things.
WE'RE BIG, THEY'RE RICHER
Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers so when you speak about big football clubs you are speaking about the history of the football club.
JOSE MOURINHO, United manager, pointing out that his side are unable to compete with City's riches in the transfer market.
WE'VE ALWAYS MANAGED
Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are all richer than us. We have to find ways to be successful. ''
ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, who has largely been frugal in his dealings.
"Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers so when you speak about big football clubs you are speaking about the history of the football club."
Mourinho had spent almost £300 million over the course of his 18-month reign at Old Trafford. But he still felt that it was insufficient.
"It is not enough. The price for the big clubs is different to the other clubs. The big historical clubs are normally punished in the market for their history," he said.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, however, disagreed with Mourinho's comments.
"I have been in that position for 21 years so I can't start to complain now," said the Frenchman.
"There have always been three or four teams richer than I am.
"I've learnt to cope with that. We deal with our own situation as well as we can.
"Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are all richer than us. We have to find ways to be successful."
The draw with Burnley saw United lose further ground in the table to City, who faced Newcastle away yesterday (early this morning, Singapore time).
Ashley Barnes gave Burnley the perfect start in the third minute before Steven Defour doubled the lead in the 36th minute.
United made a double switch after the break and substitute Jesse Lingard gave United hope in a dominant second half with a sublime back-heel finish from Ashley Young's cross in the 53rd minute.
And Lingard ended as United's hero when he fired into the bottom corner in the first minute of stoppage time.
"The end product of so much dominance, two goals, is a miserable number," Mourinho added.
"The boys fought against the 2-0, so nothing negative to say about them. I praise their spirit. We should have won."
While the United manager may seek reinforcements in the transfer window beginning next week, Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini is uncertain if he will extend his stay at Old Trafford.
United triggered a one-year extension in the 30-year-old's contract at the start of the year, but agreeing on a deal beyond the end of the campaign is proving difficult.
"They made a proposal, probably another will follow. Whether I will accept it, I do not know. We will see," Fellaini told Belgian website Humo.
He can begin talks with clubs when the transfer window opens on Monday and could also leave for nothing when his current contract expires at the end of the season.
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS