Mour­inho says only FFP can stop City

United man­ager ques­tions whether Rash­ford and Lin­gard are nat­u­ral fin­ish­ers

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - JAMIE JACK­SON and ANDY HUNTER

José Mour­inho be­lieves that if Manch­ester City con­tinue their tra­jec­tory, then un­less fi­nan­cial fair play (FFP) halts them, it may be many more years be­fore Manch­ester United are cham­pi­ons again.

United won their most re­cent ti­tle in 2013 and, given they are 18 points be­hind City, the wait for a 21st seems cer­tain to stretch into a sev­enth sea­son, at least.

Liver­pool have not won the ti­tle since 1990. Asked whether United could suf­fer a sim­i­lar drought, Mour­inho said: “I don’t know what hap­pened in Liver­pool. I just know the num­bers but I don’t know why. I don’t know [how long for United]. It de­pends on our evo­lu­tion but also oth­ers’ evo­lu­tion. If the ones above us keep go­ing in the same di­rec­tion and if their am­bi­tion and in­vest­ment is con­tin­u­ous, that’s one thing. An­other thing is if they stop, or if the fi­nan­cial fair play makes them stop, and then we can close the gap a lit­tle bit bet­ter.”

City were fined £49 mil­lion – Bournemouth v Liver­pool The Vi­tal­ity Sta­dium, to­day, 12.30pm Live on Sky Sports Premier League later re­duced to £18m – for FFP con­tra­ven­tions in 2014, but Mour­inho of­fered no opin­ion on whether they may again be pun­ished. “The world is full of sug­ges­tions and I never know if they are true or not true,” he said. “And that’s not my job to an­a­lyse that.”

An­a­lyse

He was hap­pier to an­a­lyse United’s lack of goals. They have scored only 24 times in the league and Mour­inho ques­tioned whether Mar­cus Rash­ford and Jesse Lin­gard, who have found the net twice and once re­spec­tively, were nat­u­ral fin­ish­ers. “They work very hard but it’s not about work,” he said. “It’s about nat­u­ral qual­i­ties. We need to score more goals.”

City’s Ra­heem Ster­ling scored 18 times in the league last sea­son hav­ing pre­vi­ously been er­ratic in front of goal. Yet Mour­inho was curt when asked whether Ster­ling was a good ex­am­ple for Rash­ford and Lin­gard. “No,” the man­ager said.

Mour­inho’s fu­ture has been the sub­ject of spec­u­la­tion but his agent, Jorge Mendes, has claimed the man­ager is go­ing nowhere. “There have been more ru­mours of José Mour­inho leav­ing Manch­ester United,” Mendes told the Tele­graph. “It’s to­tally un­true. José is very Manch­ester Utd v Ful­ham Old Traf­ford, to­day, 3pm Live on Sky Sports (Ire­land only) happy at the club and the club is very happy with him. He has a long-term con­tract and is fully com­mit­ted to build­ing a solid win­ning pro­ject.”

United’s one ma­jor sign­ing last sum­mer was Fred, but Mour­inho has said the mid­fielder will strug­gle for se­lec­tion un­til the team tighten up. The Brazil­ian has fea­tured in only one of the last seven games. “The day we are stronger de­fen­sively I think the hori­zons for Fred change,” Mour­inho said.

Se­ri­ous doubt

Eric Bailly could be left out of the squad for to­day’s game at home to Ful­ham, along with Antonio Va­len­cia. Bailly started against Arse­nal on Wed­nes­day, when Va­len­cia was an un­used sub­sti­tute. An­thony Martial is a se­ri­ous doubt to be fit as is Mat­teo Darmian.

Mean­while, Jür­gen Klopp has said Ben Mee did not in­ten­tion­ally in­jure Joe Gomez and the chal­lenge that frac­tured the Liver­pool de­fender’s leg was “the clean­est” com­mit­ted by Burn­ley at Turf Moor.

Klopp and Sean Dyche were em­broiled in an an­gry ex­change fol­low­ing Liver­pool’s 3-1 win, with the Burn­ley man­ager an­noyed by crit­i­cism of his play­ers’ tack­ling. The Liver­pool man­ager asked ref­eree Stu­art At­twell to take ac­tion over chal­lenges that he be­lieves were rash, but ac­cepted were not fouls.

That prompted Dyche to ac­cuse Daniel Stur­ridge of cheat­ing – “he is no cheat,” Klopp re­sponded – but Liver­pool’s man­ager sought to clar­ify his po­si­tion and ab­solve Mee of blame for the in­jury that will side­line Gomez un­til the new year.

“I didn’t speak about that tackle, I spoke about these kind of tack­les,” ex­plained Klopp, who will also be with­out De­jan Lovren and prob­a­bly Sa­dio Mané at Bournemouth to­day.

Liver­pool have made the best start to a top-flight sea­son in their his­tory, yet find them­selves trail­ing City by two points. Klopp in­sists the sit­u­a­tion is not dis­heart­en­ing.

The Liver­pool man­ager added: “How can you moan about that? The only job we have to do is col­lect as many points as we can. We can­not do more. It is ab­so­lutely not a prob­lem for us that we go in the dress­ing room and see the Manch­ester City re­sult and they have won again. We ex­pect them to win all the time, apart from the games against us.” – Guardian

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