Jose Mourinho opens up about Man United debutants Axel Tuanzebe and Joel Pereira

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has opened about about handing debuts to Axel Tuanzebe and Joel Pereira during Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup fourth round.

Tuanzebe, after months of lingering in the first team, finally received a chance to impress at right back against Warren Joyce’s men, replacing the injured Timothy Fosu-Mensah after 68 minutes.

Pereira, who was recalled from a loan spell at Belenenses last month, came on for the last ten minutes in place of Sergio Romero.

And Mourinho, speaking after the game, insisted that the pair deserved the opportunity to feature in the first team.

“For [Axel] Tuanzebe and Joel [Pereira], it was their first match and it’s always a nice moment for every a player, a moment that stays in their career,” he said.

“So it was nice for me to give them the opportunity but it’s not my work. The work was made in the Academy, where the players have been since they were young kids; in Joel the work was also done in Portugal, where he played for six months with Belenenses. So it’s not my work at all – I’m just the guy that have them the opportunity.”

Joyce endured a relatively joyless afternoon in the dug-out, with his Wigan side quickly collapsing as the second half progressed. But the sight of Tuanzebe and Pereira – two players he nurtured during his spell as academy coach – would have certainly pleased him.

The message under Mourinho is manifestly clear: if you work hard enough and display the right level of enthusiasm for understanding the methods being implemented by the Portuguese, you will receive a chance to feature in the first team, regardless of how old you are.

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