Jose Mourinho has hit out at the state of the pitch his Manchester United team will play on in their Europa League clash against FC Rostov on Thursday.
With the home side opting not to train on the pitch prior to the last-16 tie in a bid to protect the already crumbling surface, Mourinho had criticised a surface that he suggests may affect his team selection as he ponders whether he bring Henrikh Mkhitaryan into his side after a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
“It is hard for me to believe that we are going to play on that field, if you can call it a field,” moaned Mourinho after he saw the pitch for the first time on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what team to play, really. I don’t know if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to play. I don’t know. I have now a lot to think because I was expecting something more playable.
“In a very similar pitch in the summer (pre-season tour) in China we decided not to play, but it looks like we have to play.
“I was analysing this very good opponents that we didn’t speak about yet, and in their previous matches against Bayern, Ajax, Atletico Madrid, in all these matches it looked for me a very playable pitch. I was very surprised with what I found here today.”
Mourinho expressed his annoyance to local officials as he questioned whether the game should be played, but he was given a swift rebuttal.
“I told one gentleman from UEFA of my concerns,” he added. “He just told me the players are insured, so what happens to them is no problem.”
Mourinho has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start the Europa League tie in Russia, after he accepted a three-match FA suspension for his elbow on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings in last Saturday’s feisty Premier League clash at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho has admitted he may have to prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League as the best route to Champions League qualification if Manchester United overcome FC Rostov to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s secondary cup competition.