Jose Mourinho added to the sense of turmoil surrounding him at Manchester United when he turned up half an hour early for his weekly press conference and left after a tense eight-minute exchange with reporters.
It can only be assumed that Mourinho’s actions were intended to wrong-foot journalists who have come under fire from the 55-year-old manager in recent weeks.
The United boss has come under increasing scrutiny over his strained relationship with Old Trafford chief Ed Woodward and record signing Paul Pogba this summer.
Last weekend’s shock defeat at Brighton heaped more pressure on Mourinho, with Zinedine Zidane understood to be interested in replacing him.
Asked if his relationship with Woodward is fine, he replied: ‘Of course.’ On Pogba, who admitted after the Brighton game that his attitude and those of his team-mates wasn’t right, Mourinho added: ‘Paul said. He has to answer by his words. If you want any explanation about Paul’s words, you must get him and ask him.’
Pressed on the problems in the background at United, a moody Mourinho said: ‘Yeah, but don’t ask me because I don’t read it. I don’t know 10 per cent of what is written, of what is coming on TV screens, so I’m not the right guy to answer it. You are pessimistic, I’m not.’
When it was put to Mourinho that it has been a difficult week following the defeat on the South Coast, he said: ‘No. I think difficult. After the match you lose, it is always difficult, especially for people that really care about the job, about being a football professional, but after that you think about the next match.
‘You do the same when you win. You have to move on and focus what next and when you lose you have to do even more.
‘I feel we played well against Leicester and we won, I felt we played bad against Brighton and we lost. I would like to play well and win. It’s to play well and win, don’t make mistakes, that’s what we want.’
Asked about Monday’s game against Tottenham at Old Trafford, which has now taken on greater significance, Mourinho replied: ‘I’m not going to comment.’
Is it the right game at the right time then? ‘You have to play against 19 opponents at Old Trafford and away, you have to play against everyone, I don’t know if it’s the right time. The time is now.
‘The fixtures were decided this way and we have to play Tottenham in the second match at Old Trafford and then we go away twice in a row Burnley and Watford, this is what it is. Of course, a difficult match, a team that last season finished in the top-four.’
There was better news for Mourinho on the injury front with Nemanja Matic, Antonio Valencia and new signing Diogo Dalot back in training, although it remains to be seen if they face Spurs.
‘I don’t know because today is still Friday and we have training Saturday and Sunday, and a match on Monday.
‘There are decisions to be made on Sunday but, yes (Matic and Valencia are) training with the team, Dalot also training with the team for the first time this week, so in terms of medical department they are almost free.’