Jose Mourinho might still be living out of a city centre hotel two-and-a-half years into his tenure as Manchester United manager, but his virtual house is close to falling down from what he was saying on Friday.
“A football team is like a house, too, a house is not just about buying the furniture,” he said in his press conference previewing Sunday’s clash with Liverpool at Anfield . “You have to do work in the house and when the house is ready, then you buy the furniture, you spend money on the best possible furniture and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.”
Whereas Liverpool spent big in 2018 to bring in the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho, Mourinho was left frustrated by his club’s refusal to invest in another centre-back to help repair the foundations of his side which are currently coming apart at the seams.
While United seemingly have plenty of attacking luxury at hand in the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, the truth of the matter is that there is very little structural integrity about this squad going into the Christmas break.
Mourinho has been unable to get a tune out of too many of his best players this term, and United head to Merseyside trailing Liverpool by 16 points in the table after 16 matches for the first time in 29 years.
And although Jose’s house metaphor was clearly also a dig at a Liverpool side who have yet to gain a trophy to match their expressive attacking football under Jurgen Klopp, it is United who are on rockiest ground right now.
After their 2-1 Champions League reverse to Valencia in midweek which denied them first place in Group H and a potentially softer draw in the first knockout round, Mourinho made it known that he trusts almost nobody in his first-team squad as things stand.
“Nothing that happened surprised me at all,” he said after the game in Spain. “I didn’t learn anything from this game.
“I expect better from my players, especially players that week in, week out, you ask me ‘why don’t they play?’ ‘Why they don’t they start?’
“It was a good match to play, a match without any kind of pressure, a match in a competition that everybody likes to play. And in the end, my team improved when I made the changes that I didn’t want to make.”