Monday 22 January 2018

Jose Mourinho fears reaching EFL Cup final could sabotage Man United's top-four hopes

Jose Mourinho fears there could be fixture congestion ahead
Jose Mourinho fears there could be fixture congestion ahead

Jack Austin

Jose Mourinho is wary of the negative consequences of reaching the EFL Cup final could have on Manchester United pursuit of a top-four place.

United are overwhelming favourites to secure safe passage to the Wembley showpiece ahead of Thursday’s second leg away to Hull, having won the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford.

However, the EFL Cup final is on February 26 – the same day United are scheduled to face rivals Manchester City at the Etihad, and Mourinho to lock horns with Pep Guardiola for the third time this season.

As a result, the Portuguese is convinced the game will be pushed back towards the end of the season, making United’s run-in all the harder.

As it stands the Red Devils’ final two away games of the season are against Tottenham and Arsenal, and Mourinho is concerned that adding a trip to the Etihad into that cluster of games could derail United’s season at the last.

“I know it's going to be hard,” said Mourinho, whose side are currently sixth, four points off the Champions League places.

“If we beat Hull and we play the final, then we don't play Manchester City.

“Then for that match I'm sure they will choose an amazing moment, difficult for us, to make us play against them.

“Then we have the Europa League, the non-stop European competition. You have to play last 32 and last 16.

“So, if we progress, it's going to be really difficult, but let's see what happens. At this moment we have a 25 per cent chance to win the EFL Cup.”

Should United reach the final of the League Cup, as well as the FA Cup and Europa League, then Mourinho’s side will have played a minimum of 66 games this season.

And Mourinho is well aware of what that could do to his squad in comparison to Chelsea’ schedule, which has no European competitions or the League Cup.

“I have a board in my office with the matches and possible matches, and when I look at it, the image is quite complicated,” said Mourinho.

“We know there are teams with a wonderful life. They play on the weekend, have two days off, everybody rests, everybody enjoys, everybody comes back fresh.

“Then they have four of five days off, with time to work on every detail, and that is a big difference to be honest.”

Independent News Service

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