Jose Mourinho played down his frustration by a lack of deadline-day activity as Manchester United failed to bring in a centre-back.
After sealing deals for Fred, DiogoDalot and Lee Grant by early July, last season’s Premier League runners-up were unable to add further despite the Portuguese’s explicit desire to bring in two more players.
Mourinho warned it could be a “difficult season” if United did not bring in at least one more face, with centre-back the main focus in a market that was inflated by last summer’s deals.
It’s understood that United were ready to spend big on a world-class defender, with a £100million move for Raphael Varane considered before Real Madrid made it clear that the France international was not for sale.
A number of other centre-backs were tracked but the club found few realistic options to markedly improve their backline as they attempted to balance long-term success with Mourinho’s hunger for silverware.
The United boss had been braced for the deadline-day disappointment and warned ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester that the lack of improvement could return to haunt them this winter.
Asked if he had the tools to compete without new signings, Mourinho said: “I have my players, I like my players, I like to work with my players.
“One lie repeated 1,000 times is still a lie, but the perception of the people is that it’s true but it’s still a lie.
“So, when you repeat 1,000 times that my relationship with my players is not good, it’s a lie that repeated 1,000 times is still a lie.
“But again, the perception of the people that reads can be different, but I like my players and my group.
“I enjoy the last season, the fight to finish where we finished and to manage the best position in five or six years.
“I’m going to enjoy this season. Again, I know the words you want me to say or not to say.
“It depends on the music, but words for me don’t come easy.
“I think by the end of November or December, you don’t need words – you will see by then which teams are candidates to win the Premier League.
“In this moment, words are not important.
“Let’s play football and by the end of November or December, you don’t need words. You will see which teams are candidates.”
United had been interested in signing Harry Maguire this summer, but Leicester’s steadfast refusal to sell scuppered any move for the England star.
Misgivings over Jerome Boateng’s fitness and Bayern Munich’s reluctance to do a loan deal ruled that option out, while Atletico Madrid were contacted about Diego Godin but it quickly became evident that the move was a no-go.
Barcelona defender Yerry Mina joined Everton as prohibitive agent demands put off United and no offer is understood to have been tabled for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld.