MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Apr 25- Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United have laid the foundations this season for “better years to come”.
The club is pushing for a top-four finish in the Premier League, having already won the EFL Cup and with a Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo next week.
They could move into the Champions League qualification places at the expense of Manchester City with victory over Pep Guardiola’s side on Thursday.
But Mourinho says he is not concerned by titles at this stage and is instead focused on building for the future.
“It doesn’t matter what happens in terms of titles we win or don’t win, I always feel that the season is very important for me, the players and the club”
“I would say this can be the first season of the next five or six or seven. It can be the first season of better years.
“And the reality is even in the first season of better years we won already and we have already the chance to do good things until the end of the season.
“If we manage to win the Europa League and in August to play the European Super Cup against the Champions League winner, it will be magnificent.”
Mourinho has won titles in Portugal, Spain, England and Italy and says the task at Old Trafford is most similar to the challenge he faced at Real Madrid.
He ended Real’s three-year trophy drought in his first season at the Bernabeu, beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, before guiding the club to the league title the following year.
But those were his only major trophies in Spain as Barca largely dominated domestically.
“I would say it’s similar to the Real Madrid one because they were two giants in two difficult periods,” Mourinho added. “You go to the giant club, you feel the dimension, you feel the pressure and you feel the expectation.
“But you also feel the club is not ready, not ready for this kind of expectation and you have to work more.
“And then you have to fight more. So I would compare my arrival here to my arrival at Real Madrid. Chelsea was a different profile, Inter Milan a different profile. Porto a different profile as well.”
Mourinho also explained his approach to management following public criticism of certain United players.
Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial have both been challenged this season, while Marcus Rashford drew praise despite a run of one goal from 15 appearances between January and early April.
“It is not a psychological approach,” Mourinho added. “It is common sense. When you give everything you have, I cannot demand more from you.
“Marcus [Rashford], even when not performing especially well, he was giving absolutely everything. I could never demand more from him.
“I could just support and say, ‘Better days will arrive’. Always super happy with the approach of such a young and talented kid.
“Some other guys don’t give everything they have so that’s the point. They have to and when they do it, I’m happy with them, it doesn’t matter how they perform.”
Mourinho also refused to be drawn on the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will not play again this season after injuring his knee against Anderlecht.
The forward’s one-year deal expires this summer, although does include the option for a further year.
“He is in America and that’s the only thing that matters now,” Mourinho said. “He is in America to have the surgery and start the recovery process.”
By Sky Sports