Mourinho's targets for that position were primarily Leicester City's Harry Maguire, Jérôme Boateng of Bayern Munich and Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham. Ivan Perisic, the Croatia worldwide, also featured prominently on Mourinho's wish list but it now seems that United's summer transfer business will be restricted to the arrivals of Fred, the injured Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant, signed from Stoke City as a third-choice goalkeeper.
"My view is that, first of all, is hard for me to believe we finished second", he said.
"I am still expecting them to be very strong this season, and I actually think that, along with Liverpool, they will be a lot closer to Manchester City this time". "The information I have is no", he replied matter-of-factly.
Manchester City are favourites to be the first team since Neville's United to retain the Premier League, with the chasing pack hoping that a renewed focus on the Champions League might lead to City taking their eye off the defence of their title.
Writing in his column for the BBC, Shearer said: "Their team is definitely already good enough to challenge champions Manchester City for the title, but can Jose get the best out them, and can they play in a style that can keep their fans happy?"
The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. He's one of the players that I have to speak to, to see how physically and mentally he feels.
That felt like a reference to Liverpool but, more importantly for United, it was also an admission that it will need a dramatic improvement this season for his own team to bridge the gap.
Sergio Romero, Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Dalot, Ander Herrera and Matic are all injured for Leicester's visit, while Mourinho needs to check on the fitness of those that returned late from the World Cup.
Liverpool FC finished the Premier League season in fourth place in the table to ensure their continued participation in the Champions League following a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Kiev showpiece.
Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku made slightly early returns so could be involved on Friday, perhaps helping to boost the mood of a manager who has looked downbeat for much of the summer.
Back in my time playing for Liverpool, our manager Kenny Dalglish rarely changed a winning line-up and we sailed to the 1988 First Division title with plenty to spare, but squad rotation is a big part of the modern game and Klopp has all the tools to make that work for him this season. I was told that during pre-season it looked like I was saying something absolutely out of order, something insane.