Jose Mourinho has said it could take some time for Manchester United to move on from the Louis van Gaal era in their brand of football.
Mourinho took over as United boss in May as successor to the sacked Van Gaal, whose style of play had attracted criticism from some quarters.
Asked ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield clash against Leicester about United’s players making a transition, Mourinho stressed his own philosophy was “different” to Van Gaal’s rather than better.
But the Portuguese — who has so far signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly and looks set to add Paul Pogba imminently — did also say the process of change would be easier if he could have “20 new players and start from zero.”
Mourinho said: “My teams are different to Mr Van Gaal’s teams. I want to make it clear that I am not saying my teams are better or have better ideas or my principles of play are better. Not at all.
“My teams are different to Mr Van Gaal, and it is a difficult situation to change the dynamics.
“It would be easier for me to have 20 new players and start from zero.
For two years, they had some principles of play that are not mine — clearly, they are not — but the players are players and, without losing their identity, they always try to adapt to what the manager wants.
“Of course, after two years of work, there are things in their brain that are automatic and that is difficult to change, but we are working hard and the players are trying everything.
“Of course we make mistakes and we are far from perfection, but they are giving everything to adapt, and step by step my team is going to be my team.”
United’s preseason has consisted of a friendly win at Wigan and a troubled trip to China that featuring a loss to Borussia Dortmund and the cancellation of a fixture against Manchester City, followed by victory over Galatasaray in Gothenburg and a draw with Everton in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial at Old Trafford.
Mourinho only had players who participated in Euro 2016 involved in the last two fixtures and has expressed concern about the way preparations have gone in the buildup to United’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth on Aug. 14.
Asked how he viewed Sunday’s game at Wembley in terms of its importance as a trophy opportunity or a fitness exercise, he said: “Everything is important.
“Our preseason was strange — good for some players but not enough for others. The number of matches was not enough. The match not played against Man City was really bad for us.
“The week of work, which I can change and say the week of no work, in China was really bad for us, so we need to train and we need to play. We need minutes for the players.
“We need to train against other teams like we did against Everton and Galatasaray, but that is over. Now we have no chance to train against other teams.
“Now we have Leicester before the Premier League and it is not a training session against another team — it is a game.
“I think especially for the players that were involved last season, for them it must have a meaning, because to play in the Community Shield you need to be champion or have won the FA Cup, and they won the FA Cup. So I think we have to face it as a game.
“We have six changes [substitutes], not three, so that gives me the chance to give minutes to some people, a chance to play with some players who I know cannot have the condition to play for 90 minutes, so it will be a little bit of everything — and, of course, we will try to win it.”
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, has made it clear he sees the match as one with a legitimate piece of silverware on the line.