Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed his intention to sign another central midfielder in the next transfer window but as a replacement for Michael Carrick not Paul Pogba.
Mourinho spent the majority of his Friday press conference ahead of the club’s FA Cup fifth-round tie with Huddersfield Town angrily responding to questions over Pogba’s future at the club amid speculation of a rift between him and the player.
French publication L’Equipe claimed Pogba, who rejoined United from Juventus for £89.3 million ($ 123.5 million, 100.5 million euros) in August 2016, had been unhappy in a more defensive role in the team and said his future lay away from Old Trafford.
Pogba has struggled for form in recent weeks and Mourinho substituted the 24-year-old in two of United’s last three matches.
Mourinho, however, hit back at what believes are “lies” regarding the France international before he later talked about his desire to strengthen midfield with Carrick, 36, set to retire at the end of the season and take up a role on United’s coaching staff.
“We need to sign a midfield player,” said Mourinho. “Because we are going to lose Michael Carrick. Of course, we need balance in the team.
“Some of you (the media) keep saying that we are going to buy that striker, that winger, that left winger, that right winger.”
The Portuguese boss added: “You can accuse me of many things, but you cannot say that I lied to you. When I don’t want to say things, I don’t say (them). But I don’t take you in other directions.
“We are looking and we are going to try to sign a midfield player.”
– ‘McTominay didn’t arrive from the moon’ –
Carrick himself has talked up 21-year-old Scott McTominay as a potential replacement, and Mourinho insisted he is aware of the academy graduate’s ability having utilised him in 12 games this season.
“Scott McTominay didn’t arrive here from the moon,” added the former Chelsea boss. “Before he came to the first-team he trained with us many times last season.
“He came to us in pre-season and then we realised that with Andreas Pereira going to Valencia, we decided not to buy another player because we had Scott McTominay ready to step up.
“The objective of having a squad that is not so big is exactly to be open for this.
United, second in the Premier League but a huge 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, face a crunch period of matches after Saturday’s clash. These include a two-legged Champions League tie against Sevilla and league games with top four rivals Chelsea and Liverpool.
Mourinho, however, insisted United will not treat the FA Cup — which he won while at Chelsea in 2007 — lightly.
“Let’s go step by step. The next one is the one that, on Saturday at 7.30pm (1930 GMT), we are out of the FA Cup or we are in the quarter-final draw,” he said.
“It is black or white. It’s not grey. That is really important because it’s a knockout match. We are going to face the game in the best possible way.
“Sevilla is half of a knock-out, so not so crucial as Huddersfield, but almost.
“We are going to try, we are going to try. The Champions League is more difficult than the Europa League, we all know that.
“And the FA Cup in this moment, I believe all the top teams, I think only Liverpool and Arsenal are out. A nice draw for Chelsea, for Man City, for Tottenham.
“Top teams are going to be in the quarter-final. Let’s make sure we are there too, but even the FA Cup will be tough,” he added.