Jose Mourinho says the “understanding” and “realistic” Manchester United fans made him fall in love with the club.

Mourinho took over from Louis van Gaal in the summer after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League last season and won his first three Premier League games in charge.

United won just one of seven top-flight games stretching over October and November, but are now within two points of the top four after a six-game winning streak in the Premier League, and Mourinho has paid tribute to the Old Trafford supporters for sticking by him.

“The thing that made me immediately feel deeply about the club and the people, and the desire to work for the people, is the people,” Mourinho told United’s official website.

“The ones who keep the expectations for the future but understand the road to arrive there and are always supporting the team, even in the bad moments we have had.

“That, for me, is the most significant thing because it’s the thing that makes you fall in love with a new club. I think that’s the thing that touched me more.”

Mourinho was criticised for questioning the bravery of his players earlier in the season, with Luke Shaw reportedly admitting he was “baffled” by his manager’s comments.

However, Michael Carrick has said confidence is high once again among the Manchester United players following their upturn in form, and Mourinho has also expressed his love for the United squad.

“I like my players very, very much,” he added. “Not just the players, but the combinations between the players as people. They are very good guys and I love to work with them.

“I love my group so I’m really happy. And at the top of that is the challenge of bringing Manchester United to the space that it belongs. So I’m really happy.”

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