LONDON: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is keen end his barren run against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday but warned it will be far from a straightforward task for his team. The Portuguese failed to record a victory in six Premier League matches at Newcastle across two stints as Chelsea manager, recording three draws and three defeats. “I lost and I drew a few times, I hope the result is different but I know the characteristics of the game will not be difficult,” Mourinho told a news conference on Friday. “They have a good team and I think they had a good transfer window, with Kenedy and (Islam) Slimani, two players I know very well, who can really improve the team. (Rafa) Benitez knows how to get points so I think it is going to be difficult.” Manchester United are second in the table, 13 points behind leaders Manchester City. Midfielder Paul Pogba is expected to return to the starting lineup after he was dropped to the bench in favour of academy graduate Scott McTominay in last weekend’s victory over Huddersfield Town. Pogba has faced recent criticism over his tactical discipline in the middle of the park but Mourinho launched a staunch defence of the club’s record signing. “For me Paul is a midfield player. He’s not a left back, he’s not a striker. It depends on the tactical system but he will always be a midfielder,” Mourinho added. “With so many opinions, and we are in a world of opinions, people can get confused. There is no confusion between me and Paul. It’s difficult to play a midfielder with more potential than Paul.” Mourinho indicated full back Luke Shaw is set to sign a new long-term contract after the 22-year-old worked his way back into the first-team plans.
Published in Daily Times, February 10th 2018.