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Jose Mourinho: Manchester United boss says he can’t trust Fred until Red Devils improve defensively

Jose Mourinho will not use summer signing Fred until Manchester United improve at the back.

The 25-year-old became the club’s fourth most expensive player of all time when he arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk in a £52million deal.

Mourinho says Fred must adapt

But Fred has struggled at Old Trafford to date and was not even included in Mourinho’s injury-hit squad for Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

“You know, step by step,” Mourinho said of Fred’s adaptation. “You have also other players in other clubs that needed their time and you have some of them that play even less than what Fred is playing.

Mourinho says United must improve defensively before he can use Fred

“I think Fred when the team is defensively stronger and doesn’t need in midfield people that are more worried in giving some balance to the team than being involved in creation and attacking dynamic, the day we are stronger defensively I think the horizons for Fred change completely.”

United, who are without a win in four Premier League games, welcome bottom-of-the-table Fulham to Old Trafford on Sunday.


Mourinho was quick to heap praise on new Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri and warned that the fixture won’t be as easy as Fulham’s league position might suggest.

“I want to be positive and think we are going to win,” added Mourinho. “But if we don’t, give credit to the people that deserve credit. The game is not going to be 11 against zero, it’s going to be 11 against 11, good players in the other side.

“The position, the points sometimes don’t say much about the real potential of the team, of one of the two most important managers in the history of the Premier League, so they have the potential to come here tomorrow and to give us a very difficult match.”

United’s title hopes have already all but gone and they lie eight points off the top four after 15 matches – even if there were signs of the “mad dogs” Mourinho has been calling for in the midweek draw with Arsenal.

Jesse Lingard scored United’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw

“Yes, even the numbers, the stats that for me are not fundamental but sometimes they give us, they support our feelings, they support our ideas,” said Mourinho, whose job is reportedly under threat from Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino.

“We pressed the ball more, put difficulties to the opponent. We were fast in our transitions, so we had that spirit, we had that mentality that brought our game to a good level, to a better level.

“There are special players with special characteristics.

“Just to give you a couple of examples, (Ander) Herrera, (Marcus) Rashford are the kind of players that even if their game is not phenomenal, that intensity, that desire, that passion, that sacrifice is always present.

“But I prefer to say the team as a team had that mentality and we have to try to transport to this game (against Fulham).

“I know only two days (to prepare) is not easy – Fulham are in the same situation as us but probably the way they are coming to play or try to play will not demand as much from them as us. But no excuses.

“I sat here a few weeks ago speaking about December and no defeats – that’s a reality – good fights, good spirit, but just one victory against Young Boys and three draws.

“And we need points, but Fulham are the same. They need points.”

Anthony Martial limped off against Arsenal after opening the scoring

Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are among the players that could be absent for United against Fulham.

The trio will be assessed on Friday, as will centre-back Eric Bailly. Luke Shaw is hoping to return after missing that match with a knock and Ashley Young is back from suspension.
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to return to the starting line-up after being dropped to the bench against the Gunners, but Victor Lindelof (groin) and Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) are out.

“(We are) still waiting for conclusions, still waiting for people like Martial, Smalling, Jones – people with these kind of doubts,” Mourinho said.

“But there is a good spirit and people are putting themselves on the line like Chris did in the last match and Jones did against Southampton (in last weekend’s 2-2 draw).

“That’s important when we have so many matches and problems with some players.”

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