Jose Mourinho is treading a fine line with the Old Trafford board over his comments about Manchester United’s spending.
The United manager said recently that the £260million he has invested in his team in the last 18 months is ‘not enough’ to compete at the top of the Premier League.
Some senior officials at United have interpreted that as a less-than-subtle attempt to pressure them into more spending as Mourinho looks to make up ground on runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.
One prominent Old Trafford figurehead has commented privately that he believes reports linking United to signings have their origin in people close to the manager.
United knew that Mourinho would be vocal and controversial in the media when they hired him. Indeed, it was one of the reasons the club steered clear of him when replacing Sir Alex Ferguson. And while United are prepared to let the Portuguese set his own agenda when it comes to relations with match officials, opposition managers and even former United players, they will not appreciate thinly-disguised efforts to force their hand on spending.
United are happy with Mourinho’s progress on the field and have sympathy with his claim that he inherited a squad from Van Gaal that had not been sufficiently improved since the Ferguson years.
They also believe their manager’s purchases have been well thought out.
Chief executive Ed Woodward is preparing to bankroll Mourinho further in the transfer window if required and plans are in place for two marquee signings in the summer.
United know they have fallen too far behind City and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to catch up. However, further comments from Mourinho about finances will only lead him closer to direct confrontation with his employers.
Meanwhile, United have entered into discussions with Sevilla in a bid to bring down the astronomical ticket prices for their Champions League clash next month. The Spanish side sparked outrage when it emerged they planned to charge United fans £89 and £133 for the last-16 fixture.
While United are reluctant to subsidise the cost of the tickets because they do not want to set a precedent and give opposition clubs a licence to up prices in future, they have opened dialogue with officials at Sevilla.
United will email supporters who have been successful in the ballot for the 2,650 tickets on Tuesday. The message will tell them they have been charged the full price but that work is ongoing to reduce the figure. Any discount will be passed on.