Mourinho: Van Gaal's possession obsession was all wrong

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Mourinho vows to turn United into entertainers again
Mourinho vows to turn United into entertainers again

Jose Mourinho has vowed to transform the style of football Manchester United play following his arrival at Old Trafford, after insisting his predecessor Louis van Gaal had the wrong priorities in his time at the helm.

Van Gaal’s became obsessed with possession football in his turbulent two-year stint as the club’s manager, with his post match press conferences often talking up statistics confirming his side had dominated the ball amid persistently uninspiring displays.

Yet Mourinho has claimed his former mentor Van Gaal was misguided to put so much of his focus into possession statistics, as he argued his United will have a new focus.

In an interview with MUTV, Mourinho was asked if the excitement will be back at Old Trafford in the new season and he offered was quick to promise an improvement on what United fans have seen over the past three seasons.

“We want to play different than the last season. Mr Van Gaal is an absolutely top manager and his philosophy is very clear. It is not better, it is different,” he stated.

“My football is different. I am more intense, I like the ball possession has a way to create a chance to be vertical. I don’t want ball possession just to be a statistic. I am not afraid to lose the ball, I am not afraid to risk.

“The style of play….the players have a huge contribution to that. One of my characteristics as a manager was to adapt to what I have in my hands.

“I am sure that even losing, I’m sure Man Utd fans will remember some of my teams that played here and won here. Chelsea 2004, 05 and 06, Real Madrid when we came here in the Champions League (2013).

“I feel that it’s one of my strengths to adapt to the players I have. I don’t believe a manager should have a style of play. A manager should be open to adapt and create a style to the reality (of a club).

“At the moment, everyone is trying to defend better. The central area of a team is much more occupied. You give space to opponents at the sides and not in the central area.

“These are characteristics that are very important in a team. Defend well is very important and I want the fans to be behind us. I work a lot to have my team prepared for every situation.”

Mourinho confirmed he will take his England Euro 2016 flops Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and Marcus Rashford on the club’s pre-season tour to China, although the trio will not feature in the games United will play in the Far East.

However, Mourinho is intending to look at some of United’s youngsters on the trip, as he looks to banish the notion that the club’s academy graduates will be sidelined during his time at Old Trafford.

“I am bringing kids to the first team that I do not know so well,” he said of the trip tp China. “Kids like Tyrell Warren and Axel Tuanzebe, I don’t know them well.

“I just trust (United academy chiefs) Nicky Butt, John Murtough and the structure's judgement, when they say we have a few players who, in a couple of years, they can be first-team players, I have to give them a chance to work with the first team.

“I can accelerate their development. It is important to give them a chance to work in China. Winning these games is not important, but it is important to work to be together.

“When we come back from China, everyone else will be waiting for us and then we have 10-12 days before he Charity Shield and then a week before Bournemouth. It is not idea for a new manager, but we do not run away from it.”