Jose Mourinho has told his under-performing Manchester United players to “stay at home” if they can’t handle the pressure of playing for the club.
United have endured a miserable start to the season and their struggles continued with Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace.
Mourinho’s woeful side have won more times away than at home this season, with just three victories from nine games in all competitions at Old Trafford, with the Portuguese scathing on his side’s midfield problems.
But Mourinho dismissed the suggestion his players feel more pressure playing at Old Trafford and said if that is the case they should stay at home and watch tonight’s Champions League game against Young Boys on television.
Asked if his players felt more pressure playing at home, defiant Mourinho said:
“I refuse to say that, I think it would be a lack of respect to the stadium and fans to say we prefer to play away from home,” said Mourinho.
“I totally refuse to say that. Do I prefer to play tomorrow against Young Boys here or go to Bern, I would say immediately to play at home. Always.
“If you feel pressure, stay at home, and when I say home I don’t say stadium home, I say home and watch on TV. When the people come to support, come on. I don’t feel pressure to play at home.”
Mourinho also vowed to walk to Old Trafford again tomorrow night – if Manchester United’s team bus gets stuck in traffic again.
United have struggled to get to Old Trafford for their last two Champions League games due to traffic congestion, with Mourinho leaving the team bus and walking to the stadium for the 0-0 draw against Valencia last month.
Mourinho said United officials and the police had assured him there will be no repeat of the travel issues for tomorrow’s game against Young Boys but revealed he is prepared to walk again if the team are delayed again.
“We decide to change hotel, so we are not coming from Manchester city centre we are going to stay in hotel just a few metres away,” said Mourinho.
“And the information I have from the club and 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 are set to be without defender Victor Lindelof until the New Year after he suffered a muscular injury in Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace.
“He has the scan tomorrow but by the experience of the medical department and the feeling of the player, he has a muscular problem and muscular problems take time,” said Mourinho.
“I would say if we have him for the Christmas period, where we need, if possible, every player to be available for that difficult period until the Newcastle match on January, if we can have Victor available for that period that will be good.”
Mourinho also said he wants his players to treat tomorrow like a knockout game. “I describe like is not a crucial match because if we don’t win tomorrow we still don’t depend on other results, so it’s crucial game,” said Mourinho.
“But I want to play from minute one like it’s the last chance we have to qualify. I want to play this game as a knockout game. Let’s forget against Valencia, let’s play this game like a game we have to win.”