Jose Mourinho has told Manchester United’s underachieving players to “stay at home” if they cannot handle the pressure to perform at Old Trafford as they seek to reach the Champions League last 16.
Young Boys are the visitors on Tuesday as the Red Devils look to qualify for the knockout phase with a game to spare — a feat they will achieve should they win and Valencia fail to beat Juventus.
Progress would be a welcome shot in the arm after Saturday’s tepid goalless draw with struggling Crystal Palace, which left them 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and with a mere three wins from nine home matches in all competitions.
However, Mourinho rejected suggestions that his players find it easier to play away and laughed off a suggestion that playing at Old Trafford brought added pressure ahead of facing the Swiss champions. “If you feel pressure, stay at home — and when I say home, I don’t say stadium home, I say home home and watch on TV,” he 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.”
Mourinho expects a response from his side in Tuesday’s Group H encounter, having questioned some of his players’ “heart”, desire and intensity after the 0-0 draw with Palace.
The United manager spoke of his frustrations with his team’s sub-par performances before the match against Swiss side Young Boys, saying he wanted his players “not to be reactive but proactive”. “I want the team to start strong, I want the team to have a go immediately and it is a bit frustrating,” he said.
Mourinho said defender Victor Lindelof would likely be out of action for “quite a while” with an injury. “(Lindelof) does the scan (Tuesday) but, by the experience of the medical department and the feelings of the player, he has a muscular problem and a muscular problem takes time,” he added. “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 2 — if we can have Victor available for that period, it will be good.”