Monday 24 July 2017

Mourinho worry over fixture congestion

Hull v Manchester United, Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Mourinho: Concern
Mourinho: Concern

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho is concerned that reaching the League Cup final could hurt Manchester United's prospects of finishing in the top four this season.

United's Premier League game away to Manchester City will have to be rescheduled if Mourinho's side, who take a 2-0 lead to Hull City for the second leg of their League Cup tie this evening, progress to the final at Wembley on February 26 because the two fixtures clash.

Mourinho, who has again warned forward Anthony Martial he cannot keep squandering chances to impress, admitted United's congested fixture list was already a headache and fears the City match will be pushed back towards the end of the season to a time that is "difficult" for his team.

United's final two away games of the League campaign are against Tottenham and Arsenal, and Mourinho appears to be worried that another tough away fixture during the same period could damage their prospects of Champions League qualification

With United still in four competitions, they could play as many as 32 more matches this season. United played 63 games in all competitions when they won the Treble in 1998/99 but Mourinho's side would face a minimum of 66 if they reached the finals of the EFL Cup, FA Cup, in which they host Wigan in the fourth round on Sunday, and Europa League.

"I know it's going to be hard if we go step by step," said Mourinho, who was sporting a new cropped haircut.

"If we beat Hull and we play the final, then we don't play against Manchester City. Then the match against City, I'm sure they will choose an amazing moment, difficult for us, to make us play against them. Then we have the Europa League, which is a non-stop competition. If we progress it's going to be really difficult.

"I have a board with all matches and possible matches on my office wall and when I look at it, the image is quite complicated."

Martial was dropped for United's 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday, but while Mourinho said he had no problem with the France striker opting to go to Paris for a short break instead of staying to watch the game, the manager has warned the player that he cannot keep failing to take the opportunities afforded him.

Martial was substituted after 65 minutes of the 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool, with Mourinho frustrated he did not do more to trouble young Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

It remains to be seen if Martial features against Hull but Mourinho has already warned Martial once this season that he needed to take his chances after being dropped against Feyenoord in November.

"I don't think he lost his focus, I think he just didn't catch with both hands a big opportunity he had," said Mourinho, who could also include left-back Luke Shaw for the first time since November 30.

"We still have five players for these positions. I cannot give to one player chances to play and kill the others. I cannot give to the same player chance after chance after chance and not consider the effort of the others.

"If for him it was better to go to Paris, that's completely fine.

Meanwhile, Mourinho will watch with interest to see what punishment, if any, awaits Arsene Wenger after the Arsenal manager was charged by the Football Association with verbally abusing and shoving fourth official Anthony Taylor during Sunday's 2-1 win against Burnley.

Asked about the Wenger episode, Mourinho said: "I never pushed the referee so I don't have a comparison. So I have no idea." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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