'It’s going to create us many, many, many problems' - Mourinho's big fixtures fear for Manchester United
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho fears his side could run out of steam in the final weeks of the season as they try to compete in four competitions.
United face a Europa League clash against Saint-Etienne on Thursday night, before resuming their defence of the FA Cup on Sunday at Blackburn and then preparing for an EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.
Their pursuit of a top four finish in the Premier League is another priority in Mourinho’s planning, yet he admits he cannot consider side-stepping a competition as he leads one of the world’s biggest clubs.
“We cannot choose competitions at Manchester United,” he declared. “We know that our situation is really complicated, that the Europa League is a competition where we play on Thursdays and that makes it even more difficult, the accumulation of FA Cup, League Cup, match postponements, it’s really hard and if we progress in the competitions we will be injured.
“We play competitions to win and I think it’s also a good way to give a team experience and international experience is always a plus. Europa League is not a competition we want to play, but we show it respect.”
“If you ask me do I want to progress in the Europa League I tell you yes. We don’t throw away competitions, we are going to play to win and to progress.”
Mourinho suggested United’s fixture congestion will multiply as games are shifted due to their cup commitments.
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“It’s even harder, the fact that the match against (Manchester) City is postponed,” said Mourinho, refereeing to the game that has been sidelined due to United’s EFL Cup Final appearance.
“If we win against Blackburn the match against Southampton will also be postponed because the quarter-finals are played the same week the Premier League plays, it’s going to create us many, many, many problems.”
Mourinho is currently working with a relatively fit squad, but he is clearly concerned that injuries will undermine his side’s challenge in the final weeks of the season.
Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Phil Jones will all miss the Saint-Etienne game due to injury, while Mourinho confirmed defender Luke Shaw will not get a chance to make a rare appearance as he is content with the performance of the defenders currently in his side.
“He’s not playing tomorrow because my team is playing well and I’m happy with my back four,” said Mourinho of Shaw. “I’m going to repeat: (Antonio) Valencia, (Eric) Bailly, (Chris) Smalling and Daley Blind.”