Friday 19 January 2018

United frustrated as derby adds to fixture pile-up

Mourinho: Unhappy with congestion. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Mourinho: Unhappy with congestion. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

John Percy

Manchester United have to play nine games in 30 days in a fixture pile-up likely to further infuriate Jose Mourinho.

The United manager criticised the authorities last week when he claimed that "we have a lot of enemies" and April has thrown up an exhausting programme after their clash with Manchester City was re-arranged.

The Manchester derby will now be played on Thursday April 27 after being postponed because United were in last month's EFL Cup final.

United will also face Anderlecht twice in the Europa League quarter-finals next month. They also still have to rearrange a Premier League game against Southampton, and could yet face a two-legged Europa League semi-final and a final.

Read more: Man United manager Jose Mourinho claims he has 'matured', then makes thinly-veiled dig at Pep Guardiola

Mourinho criticised the hectic schedule after last week's 1-0 win over Rostov, blaming fatigue for the loss of Paul Pogba with a hamstring injury.

"We have lots of enemies," he said. "Normally it would just be Rostov but we have a lot more. It is difficult to play Monday with 10 men (United lost an FA Cup tie 1-0 to Chelsea after Ander Herrera was sent off). It is difficult to play now, it is difficult to play at 12 o'clock on a Sunday.

"We will probably lose at Middlesbrough now. Fatigue has a price."

United did manage to win 3-1 at Middlesbrough on Sunday, but next month promises to be a severe test for Mourinho and his players. Yet while the manager has bemoaned the fixture congestion, United confirmed yesterday that they would tour the United States this summer, with some games part of the highly-regarded International Champions Cup.

United will play in five cities across the country including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Santa Clara and Washington DC.

A potential game against City in the States could be arranged, after their planned fixture in Beijing during pre-season last year was called off following torrential rain.

Meanwhile, United's Phil Jones believes the character in the squad could help produce a memorable end to the season, after three years of underachievement.

United have moved to within four points of fourth-placed Liverpool in the league, with two games in hand, and are favourites to win the Europa League.

"It has been difficult," Jones said. "It has been a transition period as everyone knows. I don't think you can call out anyone for a lack of fight playing football." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

UNITED'S APRIL FIXTURES

Saturday 1: West Brom (H) League

Tuesday 4: Everton (H) League

Sunday 9: Sunderland (A) League

Thursday 13: Anderlecht (A) Europa Lge

Sunday 16: Chelsea (H) League

Thursday 20: Anderlecht (H) Europa Lge Sunday 23: Burnley (A) League

Thursday 27: Man City (A) League

Sunday 30: Swansea (H) League

Telegraph.co.uk

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