Jose Mourinho put the record straight on burning issues concerning Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney as he outlined his vision for Manchester United yesterday.
The former Chelsea boss also made a strong defence of his record promoting youth players and appeared to take swipes at Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger as he was formally unveiled as United manager.
A variety of other subjects were covered in a bullish press conference at Old Trafford, with the 53-year-old’s assertion that he will be aggressive in his drive for success also standing out.
“I am where I want to be,” Mourinho said.
“I am the manager of the biggest club in the UK.”
The long-serving Giggs left United at the weekend after almost 29 years as player and coach.
The Welshman had spent two years as assistant boss to Van Gaal, who was sacked in May, but opted not to continue under Mourinho.
Mourinho dismissed suggestions he had been reluctant to work with Giggs, insisting the 42-year-old had decided to leave.
He said: “It is not my responsibility that Ryan is not in the club.
“The job Ryan wanted is the job the club decided to give me. It is not my fault. Ryan wanted to be Man United manager.
“When you say did I offer him a job, could he be my assistant — he could be what he wanted in the club, but he made his decision. Ryan wants to be a manager.”
Mourinho believes United will get the best out of Rooney if he continues to play as a striker.
In the latter days of Van Gaal’s reign, and with England at Euro 2016, the 30-year-old was deployed with some success in midfield.
But Mourinho said: “It is normal that a player at this age changes a little bit, but there is something that will never change, which is the natural appetite to put the ball in the net.
“So maybe he is not a striker any more, maybe not a number nine any more, but with me he will never be a number six. He will never be someone playing 50 metres away from the goal.”
It was not the only time Mourinho appeared to quibble with the methods of Van Gaal, who frustrated fans with a style of play considered ponderous.
“I am more a manager that likes specialists and not so much the multi-functional players, because I am very clear in my approach,” he said.
In terms of the players he wants to bring in, Mourinho effectively confirmed the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan was complete by contradicting his press officer.
When told two signings had been finalised — Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic — Mourinho pointed out the figure should be three.
Mkhitaryan, the Armenia playmaker, has been discussing personal terms after Borussia Dortmund accepted an offer believed to be around £26m (€30.5m).
Mourinho added he was now working on a fourth target — a player he did not identify but it could be Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been heavily linked with a return to Old Trafford.
He said: “We are not going to get the fourth on August 31. We will get the fourth before then.”
Mourinho famously branded himself the ‘Special One’ when he began his first spell at Chelsea and the ‘Happy One’ when he returned for a second time.
When asked how he felt at the start of his latest role, the Portuguese said: ‘I don’t know really’, but went on to state he intended to be forceful.
He said: “It is an aggressive approach by myself. I want everything. Of course we are not going to get everything but we want to.”
Success would be regaining the Premier League title he won three times at Chelsea, most recently just last year — before the spectacular slump that led to him being sacked in December.
In a remark that could be construed as a dig at his old adversary Wenger, the Arsenal boss who last won the title in 2004, Mourinho said: “There are some managers that the last time they won a title was 10 years ago. Some of them the last time they won a title was never.
“The last time I won a title was one year ago, not 10 years ago or 15 years ago so if I have a lot to prove, imagine the others.”
Mourinho — who accepted the end of his Chelsea tenure was a “disaster” — came prepared for a question about youth players, determined to quash the perception he does not give Academy graduates a chance.
He produced a piece of paper on which he claimed he had written a list of the 49 youngsters he has given an opportunity during his career.
Mourinho, who has also had spells in charge at Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, said: “One lie repeated many times sometimes looks true but it will never be true. If you want the names, I give you the names.”
United later announced that Mourinho’s first game in charge would be at Wigan, in pre-season friendly, on July 16.
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