Jose Mourinho says he needs more time to get the best out of his Manchester United side as they gear up for a demanding October fixture list.
The Red Devils face Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday before returning from the international break to take on Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea and Manchester City in the space of nine days later in the month.
And, just 10 games into his United regime, Mourinho claims he cannot be expected to know everything about his players until he has seen far more of them.
“I need time. I need the players to play, I need to see them in different circumstances, I need to understand more about them,” he told a pre-match press conference.
“There are so many, and so much to learn about the players that only when you have worked with them a long, long time will you know them well. There is always a surprise behind the door when you have worked with the team for three or four or five months.”
Mourinho added that Thursday’s narrow victory over Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League at Old Trafford at least gave him another chance to learn even if the competition is something of a hindrance.
“Every game I know more about my players, especially the ones that are on the pitch. Obviously I would like to have other players playing more so I can see more and I can learn more about them.
“But we need the squad, that’s for sure. The Europa League is the competition which most disturbs the domestic competitions because we play Thursdays and it’s really difficult.”
However, the Portuguese refused to pick out October as an exceptionally tough month despite their forthcoming fixtures, pointing to the league setbacks against Manchester City and Watford in September as examples that the Premier League season is never straight forward.
“Every game is massive. Watford was massive and we lost three points, a lot different from the loss against Man City. So every game for me is important, you are right we have some big opponents in October but that’s also refreshing.”
United head into Sunday’s 12:00 kick-off on the back of three successive wins in all competitions, while Stoke are still on the lookout for their first league victory of 2016-17.