LONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 8 – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said his club should feel “proud” about signing Paul Pogba as the France midfielder moved closer to rejoining his former team in a world-record transfer.
Pogba, 23, is poised to complete a reported 89 million pounds ($116.4 million, 105 million euros) switch to Old Trafford after United and Juventus confirmed on Sunday he was undergoing a medical.
The fee will make the midfielder the world’s most expensive player and while Mourinho accepts that it is an eye-watering amount of money, he feels it is a sign of the club’s standing in the game.
“I don’t think Real Madrid were upset when they broke the record with Gareth Bale, with Cristiano (Ronaldo),” Mourinho said after watching his side beat Leicester City 2-1 in the Community Shield at Wembley.
“When other people break records, I don’t think it’s a reason to be sad. I think it’s a reason to be proud with the dimension of a club that can do that and can attract players of this dimension.
“If you ask me if I think it’s a lot of money, I think football is crazy. The market has become crazy. What you think this season is crazy, you realise three years later is not crazy any more.
“There are players that cost 10 million that are super expensive. They are players (worth) 500,000 or one million. What is expensive and not expensive in football, I don’t know anymore.
“I just know that he’s a big player who for sure is going to be important for a big club like Man United.”
Mourinho expressed satisfaction with United’s transfer business after seeing Ivorian centre-back Eric Bailly, Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrive.
Bailly impressed against Leicester, Mkhitaryan made his official debut as a stoppage-time substitute and Ibrahimovic settled the game with a towering 83rd-minute header from Antonio Valencia’s cross.
But despite dedicating victory to his sacked predecessor Louis van Gaal, Mourinho warned that it will take time for his players to un-learn the safety-first principles they were taught by the Dutchman.
– ‘Forty points’ –
“There are some changes that take time,” said Mourinho, whose team open their Premier League season at Bournemouth on Sunday.
“The second goal, probably last year, instead of crossing, Valencia cuts down and plays a back-pass.
“We are changing the principles of play and that takes time. In this moment, we are not a super team. We are just a team with a super desire to work.”
Ibrahimovic’s header, his first official United goal, gave Mourinho his first trophy as United manager.
Jesse Lingard had put United ahead with an individual goal in the first half, but Marouane Fellaini’s sloppy back-pass allowed Leicester talisman Jamie Vardy to round David de Gea and equalise in the 52nd minute.
Despite the result, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri felt that his side’s performance was in continuity with their extraordinary title-winning achievement of last season.
“I watched the same team as last season,” said the Italian, who gave official debuts to Ahmed Musa, Luis Hernandez and Nampalys Mendy.
“Only the result is against us. Always I ask the players: ‘Give me 100 percent and I’m happy.’
“Before this match I ask for 120 percent, because we’re not (physically) ready, and they give me 120. I can only say ‘Congratulations’ to my players.”
Leicester begin their title defence at promoted Hull City on Saturday and Ranieri said they would approach the campaign with exactly the same objectives as last season.
Asked about his ambitions for the campaign, he replied: “Forty points. Don’t laugh! We start with the same philosophy, with the same humility. That’s it.
“What we achieved is fantastic, but now, 40 points. Then, we start to think. We see how many amount is left until the end of the season, and then we see.”