The Swede, who arrived from Benfica for £31m in June, has struggled to impress during the nascent stages of his Man United career and looked notably out of his depth against Real Madrid.
He has not played a single minute of Premier League action so far this season and wasn’t even included in the match-day squad for wins over West Ham United and Leicester City.
But Mourinho, speaking on the subject of Lindelof, made it clear that the 23-year-old’s time would come.
“Eric is playing really well,” he said. “I have to say Smalling is in very good conditions and I have also to say Victor is improving every day.”
“So, as you know, against Basel Jones and Eric are both suspended, so against Basel we will play Victor and Smalling and no problem at all. The squad is good and the mentality of the players is very good too.”
“I think Real Madrid was too early for him. He played because Jones and Bailly were both suspended.
“I have players coming from different leagues to the Premier League and normally it’s not easy. The difference between Lukaku and Matic is exactly that, they have years and years of the Premier League.
“I brought in 2004 a phenomenal central defender to England in [Ricardo] Carvalho, he was one of the best central defenders in the last decade of the Premier League, but he struggled, it was difficult for him to come and adapt to the beginning and I think Victor needs a little bit of time and he’s going to have that time.
“Mkhitaryan is not a defender and last season he needed his time, so let’s go step by step, because Victor is a fantastic player.”
Mourinho has demonstrated on several occasions the benefits of forcing players to wait for their chance, to learn and imbibe the Premier League’s culture before being reintroduced. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the most glaring example. Both Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw made impressive returns after their manager publicly noted he needed more from them.
The Portuguese knows what he wants from a Premier League defender and he understands, most importantly, that constantly wedging inexperienced heads in the starting XI does not produce the desired effect.
Lindelof will need to be patient and determined, progressing bit by bit over the next few weeks, trusting Mourinho’s plan for him. His time will undoubtedly come.