Jose Mourinho insists his Manchester United career is on the line but believes some of his star do not care about the on-going crisis at Old Trafford.
United face Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday night, with Mourinho under intense pressure for his job, and former Real Madrid chief Zinedine Zidane reportedly being lined up to replace him in the Old Trafford dugout.
But the Portuguese was defiant about his future at the club ahead of the clash with the La Liga side.
“Is my job on the line? No, I don’t think,” Mourinho said.
Asked if he felt his players were still behind him following their abject 3-1 defeat at West Ham, he admitted he was “naive” in believing players will always give their best on the pitch – but effectively invited observers to make up their own minds.
“After 20 years of football, I am still the kid that I was 20 years ago, “ he said, “and I am still naive but I still don’t believe that a player is not honest.
“There are a lot of men in our team who were big players in the past and I say to people to ask these players with a great reputation if any time in their career they went to a game not to give the maximum not to help the club, not to make the fans happy or not to try his best.
“Ask them. And if somebody says to them ‘I was a football player and I didn’t give my best’ then I change my opinion. But until somebody who was a big professional player says ‘I was a dishonest player’ I will always believe the players.
“They do it [on the pitch], they don’t do it – that’s a different story. I repeat I may be naive but I still believe the player is an honest man.”
When asked if his players still care he said pointedly: “I think some care more than others.”
Mourinho went out to say that appearances can be deceptive when asked what the reaction of his players has been to Saturday’s dismal defeat in training today.
“Every player is different, no player is the same, “ he added. “I see different reactions but what you see is not really inside.
“I see upset people and some people who don’t look like they lost a game, I see so, so but in the little two sessions of training we had everything normal, desire to work and play.
“Sometimes what it looks is exactly the opposite, you can be laughing and be the saddest person in the world. And you can be a sad face and you can be a fantastic actor because inside, you are very happy.”
Mourinho refused to confirm if he had spoken to United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward to either seek or be given re-assurances about his future.
“That’s a private matter,” he said. “I’m not asking you who did you speak with this morning, who was your last phone call, that’s a private matter.
And in response to reports that he had received a call from Zidane to re-assure him that he is not seeking his job, he jokingly claimed that someone is listening to his calls.
“I think my phone must be bugged,” he said.
Mourinho admitted he will seek to improve his own managerial methods but insisted United’s failings this season are a collective responsibility between him and the players.
“What I can do to improve things I do and I will improve the things that depend on me and my work,” he said. “It is a collective thing, the reason why we don’t win is responsibility of everybody, the performance on the pitch in my opinion is the consequence of many factors of many factors.
“Luke Shaw for example said something that I agree with but I don’t agree with totally because I am part of it. He said ‘we players are on the pitch, we have to perform, we have to give more.’
“I like that perspective but I don’t agree totally, because it is all of us. Everybody in the club has a role to play, the kit man, the nutritionist, I have, everyone has a role to play and when we lose the responsibility is the responsibility of everyone.”
“I see him working hard but perhaps he lacks that final bit to score goals and provide assists,” he said.
Will Manchester United sack Jose Mourinho if they suffer defeat to Valencia?
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