Jose Mourinho was unconcerned by Manchester United’s heavy loss to Borussia Dortmund, pointing to the high-profile absentees and the “crucial” midfielder they have yet to sign.
On a hot and humid night in Shanghai, the recently-appointed United manager’s first real test ended in a comprehensive defeat to Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele scored in-between a Gonzalo Castro brace, with former Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan netting a consolation goal as United’s tour of China started with a 4-1 loss.
An intriguing clash with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City now awaits in Beijing on Monday – a match Mourinho approaches relaxed despite the loss at a half-empty Shanghai Stadium.
“I think it is a combination of factors but, to be fair, I don’t think I can analyse them with this difference of power,” the Portuguese said, underlining how much further Dortmund are in their pre-season.
“In this moment the engines are completely different – it is Formula One against Formula Three.
“At this moment they are much, much, much sharper and you can see that easily, so it is difficult to judge my players.
“But even in these circumstances it is quite easy to get three or four or five of them that you can see, even under difficult circumstances, the quality is there, the mentality is there, the personality is there to play.
“But 10 days of work, people are really tired, matches against high quality opposition that, I repeat, are in a much advanced stage of their preparation.
“It would be unfair to make any decision but, day by day, they start winning my trust, they start winning their position in the squad, in the team.
“But the reality is even in this situation I think we have six players that stayed in Europe, plus (Chris) Smalling and (Wayne) Rooney (who are in China training but not playing).
“You are speaking about eight players that are not yet involved.
“Obviously there are some players here with us who are not going to stay in the squad, so the squad will be different to it what it is in this moment.”
A number of the 25-man squad brought to China will be moved onto pastures new in the coming weeks, while United are working hard to make a final acquisition.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is attempting to bring Juventus’ Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford, while there are two alternatives lined up should that move falter.
“We are completely convinced of our market,” Mourinho said.
“I said at the first press conference at Old Trafford our market has a fundamental part and that fundamental part is four players: one central defender, one midfielder, one striker and one creative player.
“When we finish that fundamental market, we are balanced.
“Maybe today you don’t feel it but no (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, no (Marouane) Fellaini, no (Anthony) Martial, no (Morgan) Schneiderlin, so lots of them that are not here yet.
“Then the market will be open until the 31st of August and sometimes things happen you are not expecting for and you have to react.
“But our fundamental market is 75 per cent done and when we sign one midfield player the crucial work will all be done.”
United’s next friendly is in Beijing against Manchester City, who then travel onto Shenzhen to face Dortmund – a match Tuchel’s side approach in fine fettle.
“I am very happy about the result,” Borussia coach Tuchel said. “It is only pre-season so there’s a long way to go and lots to achieve in the future.
“We only arrived in Shanghai yesterday. Hopefully we will continue to play very well.”