Jose Mourinho has hit out at the perceived negative coverage of his tenure at the helm of Manchester United, stating that he believes finishing runners-up in the Premier League last season is one of the best achievements of his career.
A dispiriting Champions League exit against Sevilla in the last 16 also did little to engender a feelgood factor around Old Trafford, much like Mourinho's regular gripes concerning player availability and post-World Cup scheduling since his squad began preparations for the 2018-19 campaign.
United start the Premier League season at home to Leicester City on Friday and Mourinho took the opportunity at his pre-match news conference to take a swipe at what he views as fatalistic commentary on his reign from the media, in contrast with praise awarded to unnamed counterparts who fail to lift major honours.
"My view is that it is difficult for me to believe that we finished second," he said.
"When I listen, when I read – not much but sometimes I do – it is difficult to believe that we finished second because you [the media] are capable of making people who finished second look like they were relegated and capable of making people who win nothing and finish below us look like serial winners.
"It is difficult to believe that we finished second. I won eight championships and three Premier Leagues but I keep saying and thinking and feeling that second position last season was one of my biggest achievements in the game."
Mourinho heads into the Leicester match with a hefty injury list, including key midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, while a host of other stars of only recently returned from their break after World Cup duty.
As such, he is standing by the complaints that soundtracked United's pre-season fixtures.
"In pre-season it looked like I was saying something absolutely out of order, it looked like I was saying something crazy," he added.
"I repeat, pre-season is difficult when you don’t have your players to work with."