Tuesday 21 November 2017

Jose Mourinho says Manchester United's last Premier League game should be moved

Jose Mourinho was pleased with his side's efforts at St Mary's
Jose Mourinho was pleased with his side's efforts at St Mary's

Jose Mourinho has criticised the Premier League for not moving Manchester United's final game of the domestic season to give them more preparation time for next week's Europa League final against Ajax.

The manager has made little secret of the fact his priority has long been next Wednesday's fixture, which after the EFL Cup could secure their second major trophy of the season and qualification for next season's Champions League.

He again fielded an under-strength XI in Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Southampton, omitting Marcus Rashford, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and David de Gea, as goalkeeper Sergio Romero's performance earned them a draw.

Mourinho insists the fact United will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of Sunday's visit of Crystal Palace and that their visitors are also safe from relegation, with three teams already down, means they should instead be playing on Saturday.

He also said he had made no attempt to request a change in date because he is convinced it would be rejected, adding "I hope you don't kill me when you see my team".

"In any country in the world the match would be Saturday, because Sunday we are sixth, doesn't matter what, and Crystal Palace are safe," said the Portuguese. "So after the moment Palace beat Hull and Hull are relegated, and Swansea is safe, in that moment the match has to be Saturday, in any country in the world it would be Saturday. (But) it's going to be Sunday.

"It's frustrating for me. I hope you don't kill me when you see my team. I don't lose time (requesting a switch I don't believe they would grant). When I know the battle is lost I don't fight.

"The next match Joel (Pereira, United's 20-year-old third choice goalkeeper) is playing his first match in the Premier League.

"I'm here (in English football) already seven years; I never saw any detail of trying to care about the English teams involved in European competitions. I never saw. It's just a lost battle; we have to accept the way it is.

"I hope the fans on Sunday support the team, they forgive some naivety, they forgive some lack of confidence and I hope Big Sam (Allardyce, Palace's manager) shows he's a good friend and he goes slow. Tells (Wilfried) Zaha to go slow, leaves (Christian) Benteke at home; I hope he goes soft on us."

Mourinho dismissed injury concerns surrounding Maroune Fellaini and Juan Mata, despite the former having a "a bad feeling in the hamstring". He also reiterated his optimism De Gea would remain at the club, having earlier confirmed he would not play again this season, and amid increasing speculation linking the Spaniard with a transfer to Real Madrid.

"I don't go with (Romero can replace De Gea) 'if he leaves' because I hope he doesn't," he said. "We need two top goalkeepers and a top young goalkeeper and this is what we have. David is David and Sergio is Sergio. Spain's national team goalkeeper; Argentina's national team goalkeeper; it's amazing to have it.

"I'm really happy with both of them."

The closest United came to scoring was when Anthony Martial struck the post in the second half, but Southampton had had a fifth-minute penalty from Manolo Gabbiadini saved by Romero, who repeatedly frustrated the hosts.

Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger plans to review manager Claude Puel's future at the season's end, and after his team failed to score for the fourth home game in succession, sections of their supporters booed them off.

" Any teams have a debrief at the end of the season and this is normal but the end of the season is after the last game," said Puel.

"It is important to keep the good focus about the pitch and we have the possibility to finish (eighth in) the table."

Press Association

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