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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Jose Mourinho: I understand Man United fans' frustrations, not criticism

Shaka Hislop and Dan Thomas are at a loss for words after Jose Mourinho claimed that Manchester United lack "football heritage."
Usain Bolt put his footballing ability on show under the watch of Jose Mourinho at the Hublot Match of Friendship.

Jose Mourinho has told CNN that he does not understand the criticism being levied against him after Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League round of 16 last week.

Mourinho defended the loss to Sevilla three days later with an impassioned, 12-minute rant in which he insisted the club lack "football heritage."

Speaking on Wednesday from the Hublot Match of Friendship in Basel, Switzerland, Mourinho said he still doesn't understand the blame from supporters and pundits.

"I understand the frustration," Mourinho said. "I understand the sadness of being knocked out in the Champions League, but I don't understand anything more than that."

Mourinho, appointed as manager prior to last season, reiterated his stance that United remain in transition but said that they have been relatively successful despite those changes.

United, the Europa League winners last season, are second in the Premier League, 16 points behind rivals Manchester City. After being knocked out of the Champions League, they advanced to the semifinals of the FA Cup with a victory over Brighton on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho, left, and Diego Maradona attended Hublot's Match for Friendship on Wednesday.

"In the history of football all around the world, not just in England, you had the biggest clubs with moments of transition," Mourinho said. "You have the biggest clubs with moments of continuous and permanent victories -- and these are phases in the club.

"I think really, in this moment, looking to us in the Premier League, we have one team, one club clearly better prepared than us in the past few years to be first and we have 18 clubs behind us. ... Of course, in the future, we want to have 19 behind us, but this is the reality."

When asked if United would play "exciting" football, Mourinho said: "Like we did [in winning 2-1] against Chelsea and against Liverpool? You mean that?"

And Mourinho was also asked about meeting Usain Bolt, the eight-time Olympic gold medallist and world-record holder in the 100 metres who has a trial at Borussia Dortmund this week.

Bolt told ESPN at the legends' exhibition game on Wednesday that he spoke to Mourinho about signing for United, the club he supports, following the trial, and Mourinho said that it was "amazing" to meet the sprinter.

"Usain has a double meaning for me -- it's the meaning of what he represents in the history of sports and also what he represents in the history of humanity," Mourinho said. "He [also] is a Manchester United supporter and my feeling towards Manchester United supporters is always that feeling of giving everything I can, everything I have to try to make them happy."

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