'You can be injured in the garden' - Jose Mourinho defends team selection after injury blows
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho defended his decision to field a strong team for his side’s Europa League clash against Saint-Etienne, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick picked up injuries that looks set to rule them out of Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.
Defending a 3-0 lead established from the first leg, Mourinho was expected to ring the changes and play a weakened team with a major final on his horizon, but he sent a strong team into battle in front of a raucous French crowd.
The injuries to Mkhitaryan (hamstring) and Carrick (calf) were big blows on a night when United secured a 1-0 win to wrap up a comfortable aggregate victory, with Mourinho insisting he was right to play such a strong team.
“You can be injured leaving your house. You can be injured in the garden. You never know when and why,” said Mourinho, as he was asked why he decided to play such a strong team.
“It’s the result of so many matches. This is always a risk. When someone is missing, it is an opportunity for another one.
“Obviously they are important players for us and not to have them both for the final is complicated, but it is an opportunity for another one.”
Mourinho admitted he was not sure whether he would be without Mkhitaryan and Carrick for the Wembley date, but he sounded this note of pessimism.
“I don’t say. I just say what I feel,” he stated. “With three days a hamstring and calf, even if it’s a minor injury, I always think three days…no time.”
Mourinho went on to express his satisfaction after the win, as he insisted he needed to select a strong team to secure a passage to the last-16 of the Europa League.
“We were strong, professional and obviously the first goal kills every hope for them,” he added.
“I needed to give the right message to the players and that was to play with a strong team and to have a bench full of good options.
“The first goal for us or for them would be a massive difference. We didn’t play phenomenal, but we had control of our destiny.”