Sunday 22 September 2019

Pogba a doubt as Mourinho prepares for 'untouchable' City

Paul Pogba. Photo: Massimo Pinca
Paul Pogba. Photo: Massimo Pinca

James Ducker

Manchester United fear Paul Pogba will not be fully fit for tomorrow's derby at the Etihad Stadium.

The midfielder was unable to train with the rest of squad yesterday and instead worked indoors after suffering what was described as a "little injury".

Jose Mourinho, who has told his United players to stop relying on comebacks to win matches amid concerns they could be in trouble if they fall behind to Manchester City, will see how Pogba fares in today's final training session before deciding on his fitness.

Strikers Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku trained yesterday and seem likely to be fit. Sanchez sustained a dead leg in the win over Juventus on Wednesday, while Lukaku has missed the past two matches with a hamstring injury.

United came from two goals down against City to win 3-2 at the Etihad in April and have earned three wins and a draw from losing positions in four of their past five matches. Mourinho, however, is worried his team will soon pay the price for sluggish starts.

City have scored 17 first-half goals in the Premier League this term - two more than United have managed in 11 top-flight matches.

"If we keep conceding before the opponents, there will be a day where we cannot come back, so we have to grow up in our approach and start matches well," said Mourinho.

"Against Juventus, it happened, we conceded the goal in minute 60 or something like that and we had a good start. In the first 15 or 20 minutes, we were totally in control."

Mourinho suggested United would try to go toe to toe with City but will tell his players to treat the match as a one-off.

"If we draw, it (the gap) is nine and, if we lose, it is 12 (points), but I don't think that is the way to look at the match," he said in reference to the prospect of boosting United's title prospects.

"We have to just think about the match, it is difficult enough as an isolated event.

"If you want to put that match in the context of where we are, where we can be, it becomes even more difficult, so I want to see it as an isolated event.

"It is a difficult match against a difficult team, but they think it is a difficult match for them too."

Mourinho sidestepped questions about the allegations that City had cheated Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules, but claimed his rivals were "untouchable" in terms of the quality of their football and the squad they have built.

Asked about the Football Leaks documents published by 'Der Spiegel', Mourinho said: "It's difficult for me to answer because I focus on my job, I focus on football.

"If you want to speak about their football potential, we can speak and football potential starts with investment.

"After that, there is a quality of the work, of the organisation, and I think that is untouchable.

"What is behind (it), I cannot say.

"In this moment, I have only to think about football and about Manchester City as a football team." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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