During a remarkable news conference on Friday, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho turned his ire on the pundits who dismissed the threat posed by Sevilla in the Champions League.
Some media commentators wrote off Vincenzo Montella’s side before the round-of-16 tie, former United and Chelsea player Ray Wilkins notably claiming the Andalusian team, who won the Europa League three times in succession between 2014 and 2016 and are fifth in LaLiga, would struggle to avoid relegation were they to play in the Premier League.
In an impassioned and wide-ranging confrontation with journalists ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton and Hove Albion, Mourinho made no attempt to hide his disgust at those who underestimated the Copa del Rey finalists, Sevilla having won 2-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday to progress to the last eight, where they will face Bayern Munich.
The United boss said: “Do you think Sevilla do not have players that would play direct in my team?
“I cannot name them, because if I name them, their agents will jump of happiness. In Sevilla, there are many players that will play in my team.
“So the fans, they read what people write, they listen to what people say. And the people that write and the people that say are people with a lot of ideas. I used to call people with a lot of ideas idealists or idiots. They can be both.
“In my dictionary, which is the dictionary of life, the people, they listen to the ideologists and they also listen to the idiots.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 16, 2018
Having this week emphasised United’s poor recent record in the Champions League, Mourinho strongly denied suggestions he has encouraged supporters to lower their standards.
“The fans have to be sad about being out and the players have to learn to cope with that level of expectation, that level of pressure,” he said.
“And they have to survive and when they survive, they become stronger. Because an easy life, where the fans aren’t sad, there’s no pressure and no critics, that’s not good.
“Because if you want to make a really top team with a top mentality, they need to grow up. I don’t want the fans to have lower expectations. I want the fans to have high expectations because I want the players to have high expectations.”
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