MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 26 – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wants his side to take the game to Young Boys straight from kick-off when they face the Swiss club in the Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
If United win and Valencia fail to beat Juventus, they would qualify for the last 16 with a game to spare.
Mourinho slammed United after their lacklustre goalless draw with Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace last weekend, accusing his players of lacking “heart” after they were booed off the field by their own fans at Old Trafford following a result that left them seventh in the table — well adrift of the qualifying positions for next season’s Champions League.
He warned then that a repeat display against Young Boys would leave United needing to go Spain and beat Valencia in their final Group H game if they were to remain involved in the competition.
United’s sluggish start has been attributed to Mourinho’s own approach, which some Red Devils fans feel runs contrary to the club’s tradition of attacking football.
But, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, Mourinho insisted: “It’s frustrating because what I want is the team to start strong, is the team to go strong on the opponent, not to be waiting, not to be reactive but proactive.
– ‘Play like knockout game’ –
“That’s exactly what I want and probably you or the fans, they think ‘oh, Jose told them to start slow’, ‘Jose told them to play nice and easy and wait to see what happens’ or ‘to be losing for then to react’.”
The Portuguese boss insisted: “It is exactly the opposite thing. I want the team to start strong, I want the team to have a go immediately and it is a bit frustrating.
“It is not a crucial game, but I want to play like it is the last chance to qualify. I want to play like a knockout game.”
As for suggestions United were better off playing away from Old Trafford at the moment, Mourinho said: “If you feel pressure to play matches at home where the people come to support… come on. I never felt pressure to play at home.”
Young Boys boss Gerardo Seoane expects United to be back to their best.
“I think Manchester United are strong at home and, for sure, also they want to show to their crowd that they are strong also at home,” he said.
“This stadium has a big tradition. Manchester United were always the Red Devils at home so we expect a very difficult game.”
Meanwhile Mourinho said he was prepared to walk to Old Trafford if traffic problems again hampered United’s preparations before a home Champions League tie.
UEFA fined United 15,000 euros (Sh1.3mn) for their late arrival and the subsequent delayed kick-off of their match against Valencia in October.
Traffic congestion also saw Juventus arrive just over an hour and United barely 50 minutes before their clash at Old Trafford that same month.
Mourinho got out of the team bus and walked to the ground on that occasion — and is ready to do so again.
“We are going to stay in a hotel just a few metres away and the information I have from the club and the club contacts with the police is that things are going to be much better than the last time. But if it isn’t better, I walk!”
United will be without injured Sweden defender Victor Lindelof while Swiss champions Young Boys, who lost the reverse fixture 3-0, are missing French striker Guillaume Hoarau because of an ankle problem.