Jose Mourinho is pleased to have been cleared of a Football Association charge as the Manchester United manager insists he is “100 per cent” innocent.
After last month coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-2 amid a backdrop of uncertainty about his position, tensions boiled over at full-time as the 55-year-old made his way down the touchline.
Footage showed Mourinho making comments in Portuguese, at one point looking into a camera, as he headed towards the tunnel, leading to an FA charge for using abusive, insulting or improper language.
United vigorously contested it and an Independent Regulatory Commission decided against sanctioning him after a hearing on Wednesday.
Press Association Sport understands that move surprised the FA’s disciplinary department and could yet be appealed, but Mourinho is happy with the initial outcome.
“Yes, I’m pleased but I know that I have to respect the process and I have to for what is going to happen next.
“But I only appeal if I feel that I am not guilty. I don’t appeal to lose my time or to make other people lose their time.”
The full written reasons as to how the judicial panel members reached the decision are expected to be published next week, when the FA’s disciplinary department will weigh up whether to appeal.
Until that decision, there had been a possibility that Mourinho could serve a touchline ban at Bournemouth this weekend.
The Portuguese will instead be in the dugout and looking to build on last weekend’s win over Everton against the in-form Cherries, who are sixth in the standings and three points better off than United in eighth.
But most worrying for Mourinho’s side is that they are already five points behind in the race for Champions League qualification – a gap the manager believes they can catch up.
“I think by the end of December, which is the end of the first half of the Premier League, I think we are not going to be in the position we are now,” Mourinho said.
“We are going to be in a better position.”
Mourinho was in cheerful mood at the pre-match press conference, where he joked that questions over whether out-of-sorts Romelu Lukaku would start should be aimed at a reporter who has been getting the team early recently.
The United boss continued in jovial mood when asked about the availability of captain Antonio Valencia, who has made ripples with some of his recent social media posts and been absent for the past month.
“So, the reason why he was in the gym is because he was injured and couldn’t train with the team.
“I think it looked like he was working really, really hard – and he was, but without the ball and without the team. So, you can imagine that tomorrow he is not selected because he is not ready.
“Apart from Antonio, (Marouane) Fellaini and (Diogo) Dalot (are out) and, of course, Jesse (Lingard) and Alexis (Sanchez) are in a much better position than last week because last week was an effort from them to be available to help the team.
“But now it is a different story. Now, Alexis and Lingard after one good week with the team, they are ready to play, really.”