We can challenge for title – Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho won the Premier League title three times with Chelsea

Manchester United are “better equipped” to win the Premier League this season but have to be “much, much better” to challenge for the Champions League, says manager Jose Mourinho.

United won the League Cup, the Europa League and finished sixth in the league in Mourinho’s first season in charge.

Asked if he was targeting the domestic title this season, he told BBC Sport: “We are better prepared for that.”

United have signed Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof so far this summer.

“This season is going to be more difficult but I think we have also better conditions to fight for the Premier League,” Mourinho told BBC Sport.

“I think this season we are a little bit better equipped. We are against fantastic teams, against amazing investments.

“But I believe in our group, in our spirit, in our empathy, in our togetherness. I trust my boys and we are going to try.”

As Europa League holders, United qualified directly for the Champions League group stage.

“We went to the Europa League as one of the top teams, we go to the Champions League and we are not one of the top teams,” Mourinho added.

“We have to better, much better, for that objective. The base of everything is to find what I call a happy dressing room.”

Can new leaders replace Rooney?

Paul Pogba (left) reportedly helped convince Romelu Lukaku to join Manchester United

United sold record goalscorer and club captain Wayne Rooney to Everton earlier this month – and Mourinho says other players must now step up.

“Wayne was a very positive influence,” he said. “We cannot say we are going to improve the group because Wayne left. No way. Or the other way around.

“He was such an important guy and good guy for us. I just think it is a new period without that face, without that leader.

“And now it is time for other people to come up.”

Midfielder Michael Carrick, 35, has succeeded Rooney as club captain.

Mourinho said: “Knowing that probably it is Michael Carrick’s last year, the people that are behind him, they have to prepare themselves for that.”

So can that new leader be 24-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba?

“I would say he is the leader of the young guys,” said Mourinho. “He is probably the oldest of the young guys.

“He has big experience at such a young age, at the same time he’s still the kid that come from the academy, the way he is in the club, the way he is in the group, in the training ground.

“He is still that kid from the academy but with his experience, with his status and with his quality on the pitch, where he is also a key player for us, I think Paul has conditions to be in a couple of years such an important guy in the club.”

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‘Amazing’ money being spent on transfers

United have spent £106m this summer to sign Everton striker Lukaku (£75m) and Benfica central defender Lindelof (£31m).

Manchester City took their spending beyond the £200m mark by signing Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy on Monday, while Chelsea have also spent more than £100m.

Mourinho says the fees being spent are “amazing”.

“This season we spent a lot of money on a striker. If we don’t do that, we have no striker,” he said.

“It is obvious that nowadays, especially for the strikers, the amount of money is amazing.

“Next season we are not going to spend a lot of money on a striker. This season we had to do it. Investment is overall and it is every team.”

Another 13 years as a manager?

It is 13 years since Mourinho won the Champions League for the first time while managing Porto – and he says he is “ready for 13 more”.

“When time flies it is because you enjoy that time. When time looks very slow it is because you are not enjoying,” said the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss.

“Thirteen years was like a finger click.

“I would like the next manager to arrive and to find a much, much, much better club and team than the one I found at every level.

“I found an amazing club with an amazing history but not one ready for me to win. I want the next one to win too.”

‘Chicharito could be a Man Utd striker’

Javier Hernandez scored 37 league goals for Manchester United between 2010 and 2015

West Ham spent £16m on Monday to sign former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen.

Mourinho said: “Every team has fantastic players. When I look to West Ham, just as an example, Chicharito, could he be a Man Utd striker? Of course he could.

“Yes, still. And he is playing for West Ham, which is not normally a candidate for the title. Every club is getting good players.”

United’s Premier League campaign begins at home to the Hammers on Sunday, 13 August.

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