José Mourinho has dismissed Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s suggestion that trophies can act as an “ego thing” for managers and clubs, pointedly noting that he doubts Sir Alex Ferguson is in agreement with his former charge.
“I’m pretty sure that his big boss, Sir Alex, has a different opinion about it,” Tottenham’s manager said before facing Manchester United on Sunday. “But I respect what Solskjaer thinks. I think differently. Freedom of thinking, freedom of ideas. If that’s the way he thinks, that’s fine for me. It’s not a problem for me. It’s not being disrespectful for everyone. But I believe that, I repeat, his big boss, the biggest of Premier League history, has a different view in relation to that.”
Solskjær had argued last month that a team’s ability to handle the weekly challenge of league competition was more reflective of progress than cups that can sometimes “hide the fact you’re still struggling”. As his United side head to Tottenham this is a notable subject with both teams attempting to find meaning in their seasons. United are a solid second in the league but are down to their last trophy opportunity, the Europa League, and Tottenham hope to beat Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final this month despite an otherwise underwhelming season.
Team morale remains a question for Tottenham, particularly after their frustrating draw with Newcastle which led Mourinho to shift blame to the players. Mourinho was not amused by the ample discussion about his comments.
“You spoke about it for the whole week, so I can’t clarify [my comments],” he said. “You played the game. You enjoyed the game during the whole week. Now I want to enjoy my [recreational football] game at one o’clock, [yet] I’m here to answer the questions that you already answered for the whole week.
“So there is nothing for me to clarify. If I have to clarify, I clarify with my people; I don’t clarify with the people that know everything and that wrote and that spoke and that sold papers, audience, radios and on TV. You don’t even pay me a percentage of it and I’m not even going to play the game.”
Mourinho had stopped his press conference mid-answer to recognise the death of Prince Philip: “I would like to express my condolences to the royal family and to be very honest and say I have deep, deep, deep and the utmost respect for the royal family.
“So, my condolences. I believe that it is not just this country that is going to be sharing these feelings, because I’m not English and I know that many like myself, we have the utmost respect.”