Jose Mourinho can only hope that Manchester United are as ruthless against Sevilla tonight as he was in dealing with another of his critics before the Champions League last-16 clash at Old Trafford.
Having taken aim at Gary Neville recently, Mourinho set his sights on Frank De Boer yesterday with a withering assessment of the Dutchman’s failed 77-day spell in charge of Crystal Palace.
De Boer lost all four of his Premier League games without scoring a goal before he was sacked by Palace in September.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has launched a withering attack on Frank De Boer
The former Crystal Palace manager said it’s ‘a pity’ that Marcus Rashford plays under Mourinho
Rashford scored both goals in United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford at the weekend
He incurred the United manager’s wrath by telling BT Sport that it’s ‘a pity’ Marcus Rashford plays under Mourinho after the England international marked his first league start of the year with both goals against Liverpool.
‘I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League — Frank De Boer,’ said Mourinho as he defended his record of giving Rashford 93 appearances in less than two seasons.
‘He said it wasn’t good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me because the most important thing for me is to win. If he was coached by Frank, he would learn how to lose because he lost every game.
‘I try to give the best to the kid’s education. The best thing that can happen to a kid is to have experiences and Marcus is having them.’
The Dutchman was sacked in September after five games and 77 days in charge of Palace
The perception of United as a pragmatic team set up to get results continues to grate with Mourinho as he faces Sevilla following a goalless draw in Spain three weeks ago.
The La Liga club held Liverpool 2-2 at Anfield in the groups before coming from behind to draw 3-3 at home, and are more than capable of getting the away goal that could prove fatal to United’s progress.
Mourinho continued to play down expectations by maintaining that his team are not among the Champions League favourites, and disputed that going out tonight would be a disaster.
‘A disaster?’ he said. ‘We won 2-1 against Liverpool and there were some who said it was a disaster.
‘So I imagine if we were knocked out it would be considered a disaster. But, for me, it would be a disappointment.
‘I don’t think we’re candidates to win the competition. But when a team arrives in the last eight, anything can happen. In the last eight you start smelling the semi-finals.’
Mourinho called de Boer ‘the worst manager in the history of the Premier League’
Mourinho also defended his use of Rashford, who often appears off the bench for United
Paul Pogba has an outside chance of being involved after he missed the Liverpool game with a gashed leg.
The Frenchman was absent during the part of yesterday’s training session observed by the media, but Mourinho said Pogba joined the workout after that and has not been completely ruled out.
Meanwhile, it could be a last Champions League occasion for Michael Carrick who confirmed that he will retire at the end of the season and is likely to accept an offer to join Mourinho’s coaching staff.
Michael Carrick confirmed it will be his last Champions League campaign as he retires
‘There comes a time, whether you like it or not, that your body tells you it’s time to stop playing football,’ said Carrick.
‘That’s where I’m at. It’s something that you’ve got to accept.’ The 36-year-old midfielder spoke publicly for the first time about the heart scare that forced him to have minor surgery late last year to correct an irregular heartbeat.
‘There were times when I wondered whether I would carry on playing,’ added Carrick.
‘But that quickly passed and I got back fit. Hopefully I can get some game time between now and the end of the season.’
A Champions League winner with United in 2008, Carrick can appreciate more than most what these nights mean to the club as Old Trafford hosts its first knockout tie in the competition since 2014.
‘For so long it was kind of a given,’ he said. ‘Not taken for granted, but it was just what we did.
‘When you go without that, it hurts. You miss it. But we are back in the knockout stages and you get that extra spicy feeling.’