Jose Mourinho admits Manchester United are lumbered with players he knows will never be up to the standards needed at Old Trafford.
Mourinho will make changes this summer as he attempts to close the gap between United and champions Manchester City.
However, he accepts that United cannot offload all the players he believes are not up to scratch. Mourinho did not identify them, but he has publicly questioned the likes of Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw in the past.
He admitted that most Premier League teams cannot have the ‘perfect squad’, with the exception being a club that can sign a new goalkeeper and central defender and then replace them. That appeared to be a veiled reference to City buying Ederson Moraes and Aymeric Laporte on the back of signing Claudio Bravo and John Stones.
Asked if he needs more quality or a better mindset in his squad, Mourinho replied: ‘Both. How many points separate us from Manchester City? Not two, three or four. A lot of points. I think we need both things that you mentioned. Some of the people we have, they have to be more consistent in their performance and we need more quality.
‘I trust some more than others that can bridge that gap. I worked with the players for a couple of years. I know them better than anyone.
‘Of course, some of the players I am totally convinced are going to make it. Some others, I have good hopes that they are going to make it. And some others, I don’t believe they are going to make it.
‘Unless there is a perfect squad where you buy one goalkeeper, you don’t like and you buy another one. You buy a central defender, you don’t like, and you buy another one. Unless you can do that, and you go in the direction of the perfect squad, you have to keep players you don’t love and players you don’t totally believe have the level of the squad.
‘If you go to the Premier League managers – I don’t say every one, but I say the majority of them – they will tell you the same. In my squad, I have some players where I would like to have better than what I have. That’s basic.’
Mourinho accepted that United’s record of beating all of the other Big Six clubs but losing to the three promoted teams – Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield – as well as relegated West Brom this season is proof of a deeper lying problem that needs correcting.
‘When you lose against all the teams that were promoted, it doesn’t smell right to me,’ he said.
‘When you lose against the small teams and you win against the big teams, it’s not right. But when you lose against the big teams and you win against the small teams, that is also not right.
‘I think it’s normal that during the season, you have your low moments but in a balanced way. It is not like you always lose against the big teams because you are afraid of them or you always lose against the small teams because you don’t respect them.
‘I will try to succeed in getting every player to have the same mentality as I have. I am not afraid to play against the big teams and I respect the small teams.’