Last Updated: 30/11/18 3:06pm
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says big clubs like his can no longer expect to improve by acquiring top players from Premier League rivals.
Mourinho used Tottenham as an example, pointing out that United were able to buy high-class players from Spurs in the past but could no longer count on doing so.
Arsenal vs Tottenham
December 2, 2018, 2:00pm
The Portuguese manager won two trophies in his first season at United and guided them to second in the Premier League last term behind runaway champions Manchester City.
However, he has found himself under pressure this season, due to a stuttering start from United which has seen them win just six of their first 13 Premier League games, to sit seventh in the table.
Asked if expectations were different at United to other clubs, Mourinho said: “It depends.
“I will give you an example, that I hope is a good example. I hope you can interpret it in the right way.
“Is Manchester United by history, by its dimensions, bigger than Tottenham? With all the respect – Tottenham is an amazing club – I think everybody would say yes.
“Can we go to Tottenham and buy their best players? No – because they don’t sell or because they are so powerful that they can say no.
“A few years ago, who was Tottenham’s best player? Michael Carrick. [Mourinho gestures to indicate Carrick moved to United].
“A few years later, who was the best player? Berbatov [Mourinho makes the same gesture].
“Can we go now there and bring Harry Kane, Dele Alli, [Christian] Eriksen, [Heung-min] Son?
“Can we go there and bring the guys here? No
“So, who is more powerful now. Them or us?”
The transfer window re-opens on January 1 but Mourinho does not seem to be expecting an influx of new arrivals.
“Football changes,” he said. “It is more difficult to buy players of a high, high, high level.
“The clubs are more powerful and don’t want to sell.
“Before, the smaller clubs, they were almost begging the big clubs, ‘get my best player, I need to sell. Please, you are powerful, buy my best player’.
“At this moment, they don’t want to sell.
“It is more difficult to make the team better and stronger with buying.
“Unless you do what some clubs do, and for some reason they can do and others cannot.
“Which is, I need a right back and a left back. Send away the ones you have and buy four at the same time.
“It is difficult, so we do what we can.
“Last season was fantastic to finish second and we are fighting hard. I know we have to do better than we are doing.
“But one thing is to do better and another thing is to try and compare ourselves with what Manchester United was in the past.
“Not just because Manchester United was fantastic, but because there was a big difference to the others and, at the moment, it is not like that.”