Mourinho tells players: ‘stay home’ if you can’t handle Old Trafford pressure
Young Boys are the visitors on Tuesday as the Red Devils look to qualify for the knockout phase with a game to spare — a feat they will achieve should they win and Valencia fails to beat Juventus.
Progress would be a welcome shot in the arm after Saturday’s tepid goalless draw with struggling Crystal Palace, which left them 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and with a mere three wins from nine home matches in all competitions.
However, Mourinho rejected suggestions that his players find it easier to play away and laughed off a suggestion that playing at Old Trafford brought added pressure ahead of facing the Swiss champions.
“If you feel pressure, stay at home — and when I say home, I don’t say stadium home, I say home and watch on TV,” he said.
“If you feel pressure to play matches at home where the people come to support… come on. I never felt pressure to play at home.”
Mourinho expects a response from his side in Tuesday’s Group H encounter, having questioned some of his players’ “heart”, desire and intensity after the 0-0 draw with Palace.
The United manager spoke of his frustrations with his team’s sub-par performances before the match against Swiss side Young Boys, saying he wanted his players “not to be reactive but proactive”.
“I want the team to start strong, I want the team to have a go immediately and it is a bit frustrating,” he said.
Mourinho said defender Victor Lindelof would likely be out of action for “quite a while” with an injury.
“(Lindelof) does the scan (Tuesday) but, by the experience of the medical department and the feelings of the player, he has a muscular problem and a muscular problem takes time,” he added.
“I would say if we have him for the Christmas period — where we need, if possible, every player to be available for that difficult period until the Newcastle match on January 2 — if we can have Victor available for that period, it will be good.”