Once again Mourinho is one the mark The Daily Mail: Jose Mourinho says it is ‘crazy’ for Manchester United to be playing twice in the last week of the season ahead of their Europa League final against Ajax.
Mourinho’s side travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday night and then face Crystal Palace at home on Sunday – three days before the final in Stockholm.
United have paid the price for winning the EFL Cup and their success over 14 games in Europe, but Mourinho believes the fixture pile-up could have been handled better.
or instance, the re-arranged game with Southampton could have been played at the start of March, in the week after United beat Claude Puel’s team at Wembley, rather than put back until mid-May.
‘The accumulation of the games, I never had that,’ said Mourinho. ‘You know that in all of my career I was never out of European competitions in the group phases. And in the last 16 I was out only once. So I reached the semi-finals 10 times.
‘I go always until the end of the competitions. In the League Cup I normally go far. In the domestic competitions cups, I won in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal, so I normally have a lot of matches. But like this I never have.
‘This situation of you play a final and the game that you should play that day is going to be postponed until the last week, for the last week! This is crazy. I never, ever have had a situation like this.’
There was more than a hint of sarcasm as Mourinho thanked referee Michael Oliver for sending off Ander Herrera in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea in March which ended another cup run.
He added: ‘I repeat the same, thank you Michael Oliver. Because we were out in the FA Cup. Because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster. I don’t know when we would be playing that game.’
Mourinho revealed that he will continue to rotate his squad for the trip to Southampton and has been giving his United stars ‘a la carte’ days off to keep them fresh for the Europa League final.
Paul Pogba will miss the game at St Mary’s to attend his father’s funeral in France.
And Mourinho has given a day off this week to Daley Blind, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ander Herrera after all three played in the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo on Thursday night and then at Tottenham three days later.
‘It’s all so difficult,’ said Mourinho. ‘I am also giving one day holiday, a la carte, if you understand what I mean.
‘Monday, Blind one day off. Monday, Mkhitaryan one day off. He played 90 minutes, or 70, and now 30 more. Herrera one day off.
‘But the guys who played 90 minutes I cannot give one day off if I want them to play against Southampton and they need two recovering days.
‘It is a la carte and trying to have the people the best they can. Sometimes you need a day off and they don’t know what a day off is.
‘So this is a period in one week when I have to give one day off and now I give a day off to (Antonio) Valencia. It has to be. And against Crystal Palace two or three more and against Southampton two or three more and that’s to try to arrive in the final in the best possible conditions.’
Marouane Fellaini will return from a three-match domestic ban against Southampton but Mourinho admits that other players will have to ‘sacrifice’ themselves to give their teammates a rest.
The United boss will resist the temptation to play too many youngsters, insisting that he still wants to be competitive in the remaining league games.
He added: ‘What I want for the players is a good attitude, a positive approach, team spirit, understanding that some guys they have to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.
‘Blind played (at Spurs) after 90 minutes on Thursday. The next one, of course, Fellaini has to play the next one.
‘Team spirit, empathy and the fantastic attitude that everybody has is not one more victory, one more point, one more defeat that is going to change something.
‘A final is a final and we have to go to the final with everything like Ajax does because they have finished the season and they do not any more football to play until the final.
‘I have to build some teams with the minimum of conditions to fight for the result. We lost against Arsenal 2-0 and we fought for the result. We lost 2-1 against Tottenham and we fought for the result, and we want to fight for the result.
‘I don’t want to field a team where people have a feeling that we are not fighting for the result. We are fighting for the result.
‘But I am going to rotate people. Blind will not be playing against Southampton and Fellaini will because he’s not played the last three matches.
‘These are examples of trying not to accumulate when people have to play because we do not have other players and I cannot put four or five kids all together in the fire. I cannot do that to the kids.’