Football: Title this year? No way, Jose

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is frustrated that their good form in Cup competitions is not translating into wins and points in the English Premier League, as United seek to improve a four-draw run at home.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is frustrated that their good form in Cup competitions is not translating into wins and points in the English Premier League, as United seek to improve a four-draw run at home.PHOTO: REUTERS

United manager says more time needed to switch playing philosophies from van Gaal's

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has revised his time-table for Manchester United winning the English Premier League title, claiming that changing the way a team play is the most difficult thing in football.

On succeeding Louis van Gaal in July, Mourinho said his objective was to try to win the league in his first season in charge.

Now, he concedes that may not happen and even admits the next time United are champions could be after he has left the club.

At all his previous clubs, Mourinho had managed to get off to a quick start and stamp his personality on the team early.

He is struggling to do that at United, he says, because his philosophy is entirely different from that of the last manager and the players need time to adapt.

"Sometimes when a manager takes over a new club, the differences in approach are not significant," he said. "In that case, all it needs is a little touch, just a fingerprint from the new man and you can get a lot from what was already there.

"Here, we are trying to do something completely different. We could probably get better results if we weren't trying to go in an opposite direction. I am not talking about tactical systems here. I am talking about the way this team want to play and that is the most difficult thing in football to change."

  • 4

  • Away points Manchester United have earned in four Premier League games - one win, one draw and two losses. They have fared no better at home with four draws.

Mourinho believes van Gaal promoted too defensive a style, with too much sideways and backwards passing and not enough looking forward to attack between the lines.

United travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton today and the manager is hoping for a better return away from home than the sequence of four home league draws.

"There is no doubt we are improving, though," he said. "We know where we want to go and our destination is to be champions. Maybe we cannot do it this year. You can never tell in football but the gap might be already too large."

The United manager is back from his touchline ban but could expect trouble off the pitch after reports emerged of him being involved in a multi-million-euro system of "tax evasion" together with fellow Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, according to leaked documents obtained by a group of 12 media outlets.

The European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) consortium, which includes Britain's Sunday Times, Portugal's Expresso and Spain's El Mundo, claims that Ronaldo could have hidden €150 million (S$227 million) in tax havens in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands. "On this amount, the striker paid only €5.6 million in taxes, or barely 4 per cent," added the report.

Ronaldo, it is claimed, benefits from a system developed by his agent Jorge Mendes. Mourinho is said - again via Mendes - to have "concealed €12 million in a Swiss account owned by a British Virgin Islands company".

On Friday, the EIC began publishing the results of months of investigations into a vast trove of more than 18 million financial documents, obtained by the German magazine Der Spiegel and dubbed the "Football Leaks".

In response, Mendes' company Gestifute said that Ronaldo and Mourinho had "fully respected their obligations vis-a-vis the Spanish and British authorities".

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'Title this year? No way, Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe