August 14, 2017
Jose Mourinho believes that summer signing Victor Lindelof needs more time to adapt to the competitiveness and physicality of English Premier League football before receiving consistent playing time.
The 23-year-old was bought from Portuguese side, Benfica, for £31 million this summer. The Swedish international was expected to slot in next to star center back, Eric Bailly right away. Unfortunately, the preseason tour did not bode well for Lindelof.
Jose Mourinho, insisting that the summer acquisition needs time to adapt, said; “I think Real Madrid was too early for him. He played because Jones and Bailly were both suspended”. Mourinho was speaking of the mid week loss to Spanish powerhouse, Real Madrid, in the UEFA Super Cup.
On Sunday, Manchester United kicked off the new Premier League campaign with a hammering of West Ham, scoring four goals and allowing none on the defensive side. Lindelof was not named in the squad, instead passed over for the combination of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones in central defence. It seems as if the choice paid off as the pair looked calm, cool and collected in holding the defensive line.
Commenting on the adjustment that Lindelof must make, Mourinho says; “I’ve had players coming from different leagues to the Premier League and normally it’s not easy. The difference between Lukaku and Matic is that they have years and years [of experience in] the Premier League.” Mourinho had both Matic and Lukaku at Chelsea, with the latter being loaned out to fellow Premier League side, Everton and the former playing an integral part in Chelsea’s title winning sides. Both debuted for Manchester United against West Ham and played very well. Mourinho believes their experience within the Premier League added to their positive play.
Mourinho compares Lindelof’s adjustment period to that of a former defensive stalwart in saying; “I brought in 2004 a phenomenal central defender to England: Ricardo Carvalho. He was one of the best central defenders in the last decade of the Premier League, but he struggled. It was difficult for him to adapt in the beginning. I think Victor is a little bit of that and he’s going to have that time.” While there’s no telling as to whether Lindelof will be as successful as Carvalho, Mourinho is going to give him time to adjust to the physicality of the league before throwing him consistent minutes.
The Premier League is the most competitive league on the planet. Coming from the Portuguese league, Lindelof will definitely need an adjustment period. His adaptation is nothing that should worry fans, as Mourinho did this with a fellow teammate, Henrikh Mkhitaryan last season. “Mkhitaryan is not a defender and last season he needed his time. Let’s go step-by-step because Victor is a fantastic player.” Jose Mourinho speaks highly of Lindelof and clearly rates the player.
According to Whoscored.com, Lindelof managed a passing percentage of 89.9 last season. With the upcoming season being highly busy, Mourinho will rely on depth. With Manchester United competing in not only the Premier League but also the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the FA Community Shield, playing time will be abundantly available as the season progresses.