Mourinho Thanks Van Gaal For United Spirit
Jose Mourinho's depleted Manchester United side will face Swansea at Old Trafford on Sunday and ahead of the game, the manager is praising the spirit shown by his exhausted squad which he attributed to his predecessor, Mr Louis van Gaal..
Van Gaal is not remembered with any fondness by the majority of the club's supporters, but Mourinho believes the Dutchman succeeded in pulling together a squad of strong characters, although their resilience is now being tested as United maintain their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League and success in the Europa League.
"The group was a nice group, honestly," said Mourinho, who served as a novice coach under then Barcelona manager Van Gaal at the Spanish giants in the late 1990s.
"Good people, good boys, committed people.
"I think Mr Van Gaal left a good group of boys with very good relations between them and I got that in my hands."
The Portuguese added: "I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, they missed belief. They missed this extra bit that brings resilience, brings you fight. They have it.
"So next July 9, when we meet again for next season, it's a stronger group. So the new players when they arrive will find a group more ready to go for big things," the former Chelsea manager explained.
"But the reality is that we are fighting to win the Europa League and we are fighting to try to finish fourth, so let's go".
The arduous season, which has also seen United reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and win the League Cup, has taken its toll on the team physically.
Central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling remain out injured for the Swansea game, with Marcos Rojo having suffered a season-ending knee ligament injury.
That led Mourinho to joke he might name himself in the starting side, along with youngster Axel Tuanzebe whose entire first-team experience amounts to 22 minutes as a substitute against Wigan in the FA Cup.
United may have Juan Mata, sidelined since the middle of March, available for Swansea but France international Paul Pogba remains out with a leg muscle injury and is being saved for Thursday's Europa League semi-final with Celta Vigo.Mourinho will also be without Belgium international Marouane Fellaini, who starts a three-match suspension, after his red card for head-butting Sergio Aguero in the midweek goalless derby draw away to Manchester City.