In an interview with the BBC, Mourinho again took aim at Van Gaal and suggested the club’s recruitment fell short until last summer.
‘I found a sad club,’ he said. ‘United sold players that I would never sell, bought players that I would never buy. I would never sell Angel Di Maria, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck. Never. No chance.
‘The relation between our true potential and the expectations we create, there is a gap. We are not ready to be a dominant force. We are not ready to try and win everything.
‘Because of the nature of the club, and of myself, we are ready to fight for every game, every point, of that there is no doubt. But there is a space between the general ambition of such a giant club and what we are in reality.’
Asked if he can restore United to the glory years that the club had under Sir Alex Ferguson, Mourinho replied:
‘Forget it, it is not possible, don’t try to go 10, 20 years ago because it is not possible any more.
‘I have many, many doubts that dominance is going to get back to the Premier League. So win titles, try to get back to the Champions League, win in Europe, but the base has to be the empathy with the fans.
‘That is based on the quality of our football. We need to kill matches and kill opponents. If you don’t kill, you are killed.’
The Special One also admitted Champions League football is not the be-all and end-all for United, particularly when it comes down to attracting players.
‘I think Manchester United is very powerful. I don’t think Manchester United needs to be in the Champions League to attract the best players,’ Mourinho said.
‘Honestly last summer we got players that could be playing in the Champions League – Zlatan could be in Paris and Mkhitaryan could be in Borussia, Paul (Pogba) could be in Juventus so we were able to attract the players because they know Manchester United sooner or later will get there so I don’t think it’s really a problem.
‘And if any player decides not to come because of that then I am happy they are not coming,’ he added.