Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has talked up the qualities of Leicester City who his side meet in the Premier League on Saturday.
During his pre-match press conference on Friday, Mourinho also relived Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title win two seasons back.
“I think they were phenomenal in that 2015/16 season and they benefited from the fact that all the normal title contenders didn’t have a good season but obviously they had a phenomenal season,” Mourinho said.
“I think expectations now are if the top teams perform, it’s very difficult for them to have the same dream or to reach the same incredible title. But I think they are doing well, they are in a comfortable position, no dramas, no fears. I think they are the same good team they were.”
When asked what expectations he has for his team, he replied: “The expectation is to go to every match and try to win, which is what we do and the matches we lost, we fought until the last second (in the shock Carabao Cup defeat to Championship club Bristol City on Wednesday). We lost – if I’m not wrong – 2-1, 2-1, 1-0 (in the league to Huddersfield, Manchester City and Chelsea) – so we really managed to fight in every match to try for the best result and [there is] nothing more than that we can do [or] we can promise. We go to every match and we give our best.”
Mourinho, whose side are second in the league table 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, insisted that he had put the Bristol City shock behind him.
He added: “Could I be critical of my players? Yes, I could. But I keep thinking that they did enough to win, they lost when they were trying to win, they lost when they were the only team that people believed could win that match and they lost because it’s football. So we move on and we move on quickly because tomorrow we have another match.
“You know, first of all, you sometimes like to speak about the loser – probably you should speak more about the winner. What I told after the match, they were lucky but they fought a lot to try to be lucky and it’s one of the beautiful things that can happen in football when in cup matches a team from a lower division kills the giant. Football now has changed so much that lower division is highly professional, so I think that can happen even more.”
The former Chelsea boss then dismissed reports that he had made a decision on players’ futures following the display at Bristol City, saying: “No. I don’t make decisions based on one game, on one feeling of one night. Not at all.”
Mourinho revealed that Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick are not available for the Leicester game and festive fixtures, adding: “No timescales but not for the Christmas period.
“It [the squad] is the same. There is no news. Of course, for the game at Bristol City, we changed a lot of the players, so we managed to give a rest to many of them and especially to the lucky ones that did not travel. Because the ones that did travel, even some who did not play, arrived back in Manchester close to 5am.”