Football: United frozen in time when Jose took charge

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho applauds the fans at the end of the Stoke City vs Manchester United match in Stoke, Britain, on Sept 9, 2017.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho applauds the fans at the end of the Stoke City vs Manchester United match in Stoke, Britain, on Sept 9, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has claimed that he inherited a Manchester United that had "stopped in time" and refused to evolve when he took over last year.

In an interview with London's Sunday Times, he says that the club's struggles under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were due not simply to the departure of Alex Ferguson but also to the fact that "there was no evolution in this club".

"In all the areas that make a team successful I think we stopped in time," he said. "That was quite an empty period... with no evolution in areas that are important.

"It was the weight of the past on the shoulders of players, managers, even boards, even probably owners, because when you are used to win and win and win, and suddenly you stop, it's like a heavy burden."

Mourinho was offered the United job in May last year, six months after Chelsea sacked the Premier League's champion manager.

He signed for three seasons, a year shorter than his contracts at a series of previous clubs, but a duration he considers "the correct timing to put the football team on the right track".

THE RIGHT TIMEFRAME

Three summers are the ideal to put the team back on track, but also to make the whole structure solid and working like a perfect machine, giving... the best conditions - not just for now, but for the future.

JOSE MOURINHO, United manager, on reviving the club's glory days.

Three years, Mourinho calculated, would be needed to rebuild United's squad into one capable of challenging at the highest level of the European game.

"Three summers are the ideal to put the team back on track, but also to make the whole structure solid and working like a perfect machine, giving to the football team the best conditions - not just for now, but for the future," he said.

Meanwhile, van Gaal has criticised United over the way the club handled his departure. He told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad: "The pressure was enormous with my head in the noose and they went behind my back. I think it was all orchestrated like a film and it was done very much behind my back right from January ."

Mourinho had been sacked by Chelsea in December 2015 and there was immediate speculation that he would replace van Gaal.

While the Dutchman says "I do understand that choice of United to get Mourinho", he reserves his fiercest criticism for the leaking of his dismissal, almost immediately after United's FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace.

He said: "If they had come to me with the Mourinho plan I could have said 'Okay, let's give it everything for the last six months...' They could have saved the last year of my salary by doing that but after what happened I made them pay every penny."

THE SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'United frozen in time when Jose took charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe