United could not do their arch-rivals a favour and repeat their win at the Etihad Stadium after comfortably losing Sunday's derby, meaning after 12 matches, only Liverpool and Wolves have managed to make a dent-by virtue of draws-in City's succession of Premier League wins.
"During my time in management it was always proved that if you buy average players you end up with an average team".
"We played a great game and a deserved win", the Brazilian told reporters. And, to be honest, we have got a challenge on our hands to get there'.
And yet Mourinho is under intense scrutiny with United now sitting eighth, four points behind fourth placed Arsenal and 12 points behind leaders Manchester City.
"Of course, we missed him [Pogba]", said the Portuguese.
"It looks like they understand each other and that's good because both of them have the quality to play with the ball and they have improved a lot without the ball as well", he said.
"But I go back to the game, and particularly the Juventus game, that was more to do, and I stick by this, that was more to do with the fact that Juventus could not finish the game off".
Manchester United finished in second spot in the Premier League last term after the Red Devils ended their first season under Mourinho in sixth place. The card forced the Seagulls to try to weather the final hour down a man, which they nearly did ... until Sol Bamba scored in the 90th, denying Brighton what could be a vital point come the end of the season.
"But if after he's a fan of United or City, everybody can be a fan wherever he wants, so no problem". "But I'm not going to say it's not impressive what they have done, obviously it is".
"I think you'll see the best of Fred in the coming few months".
"One thing is a bad performance another thing is a performance with mistakes".
Could any manager lead United to that title while City have Pep Guardiola and the backing, effectively, of a sovereign wealth fund? "Then it's up to Jose to deliver a title-chasing squad and I still believe he is the man who can take them forward". "We know the derby is for the fans, and for the people who work for City".