Good news about Zlatan. Can you explain why now? Are you hoping he will be available for the Champions League?
He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champions League. I don’t think there will be any chance of that.
Do we have space in the Champions League list to have him? Yes, we have, so we don’t need to leave any player outside the Champions League list. But I’m not thinking with Zlatan to play any part in the group phase. Hopefully, he can play in the knockout phase but, for that, we need to finish top two.
When do you think is realistic?
I don’t want to think about it. I don’t even ask, I don’t speak with him about it, I don’t speak with the medical team about it. I just think he will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season.
When I say second part of the season, normally we say January, after Christmas, when the transfer window re-opens in January. But I have no idea at all and I think the right way is not even to think about it, speak about it, and just let him do his work, step by step and come back when he’s really ready.
Does that mean that you think he’s going to come back exactly as he was? Clearly, he was out of contract, so you wouldn’t have to sign him now.
I knew that my press conference would be around it. It’s the third question and it’s a third question about a player that cannot play tomorrow and cannot play next week, cannot play next month, so I would like to spend my press conference speaking about the players I’m really happy are with us.
I’m really happy he’s with us because it shows me the dimension of the player and the dimension of the club. The dimension of the player because it would be very easy for him to say goodbye, to say it’s enough, one European competition, success at Manchester United, big injury, goodbye. He doesn’t do that.
He wants to follow his other dreams and he wants to play football at the highest level, so it shows the dimension of character and personality of the player.
And it shows the dimension of the club – a club like Manchester United, in my opinion, has to show how big it is in details and this is a big, big detail. A player that gets injured in a Manchester United shirt, fighting for Manchester United, the club has to be there for him and I’m really happy with both club and player.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has done exceptionally well. He seems to have started the season a lot better than he started last season. Is that purely because he’s been here 12 months and he understands the way he has to play football here.
No, I think he understands me. And to be honest, I understand him. In the beginning if he understood me better, he would have started better. But at the same time, if I understood him better, I would help him in a faster way than I did. But we spent our time together, learning about each other, I know him well, he knows me well, and the second part of the season was good for him. I believe that, with his talent, this season is going to be even better.
Is it the same for Anthony Martial? Do you understand him now? Does he understand you?
I think again, better. I think when you have some talent you cannot waste it. When you are blessed with talent you have to fulfil it, you have to explore that talent, you cannot be happy just with glimpses. That, I’m not going to change. I want more, and more, and more from him, because he has all the qualities. I think he understands me better too. Our personal relationship is good. I don’t think it’s fundamental for a player-manager relationship but it’s an added good thing to have a good relationship. I hope Anthony is going to be better this season than last season.
Leicester City seem to have started this season better than last season. What have you thought about their first two games?
I think they are the same team that they were two seasons ago. Last season they had what we know. After what they did we could feel the second season wouldn’t be the same as the season they were champions. But I think they are back to normality. Are they going to be champions again? Honestly, I don’t think so. Because there are so many teams and I don’t think all of them are going to fail. But in terms of their qualities, I think they are the same team. They are playing exactly as the way they did before. I think they are back to their normality. And for me, their normality is a very difficult game for us tomorrow.
What are your reactions to the Champions League draw?
My reaction is the reaction of somebody who has played around 120 matches in the Champions League and is a completely different reactions to the ones I’ve listened to. I think that when you think about qualifying, it’s better to have two two teams and two weak teams. Even before the first match you know I am qualified and let’s see if we can finish second or first. In this kind of group, and another example of a group like that is Monaco, Porto, Beşiktaş and RB Leipzig, a kind of group where everyone can win, everyone can lose and everyone can draw. Every result is open. We are going to share points in between the teams. You are not going to see a four or five nil. You are not going to see some teams with 13, 14, 16 points and other teams with zero points or one points. I think it is a dangerous group. If you go to the recent history of Manchester United, Manchester United lost against Basel. They couldn’t beat Benfica in two matches. I think also against CSKA Moscow it was a draw.
I’ve never played against Benfica in the Champions League but I know their dimension and quality. I’ve played a few times against CSKA. I’ve played against Basel too. I know the places, the stadiums and the atmospheres. I know their style of play. It’s not going to be easy.
Do you think Wayne Rooney has made the right decision to retire from international football?
He told me before, the night before. I just listened to his reasons and I understand his reasons. He does it for Everton. He does it for his family. I have no complaints. I just realise, like many other people, how many matches he played, how many goals he scored, what he represents for football in this country. Many congratulations for his career with the Lions.
What are you thoughts on Mayweather and McGregor?
My dream was starting a boxing fight and have it in a different way. Both of them showing their qualities in a fight, not just in boxing, but that’s silly from me. It’s too late. I have to sleep and the next morning I will look at it.
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