Mour­inho patches up United for Ros­tov reunion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

JOSE Mour­inho hopes Manch­ester United’s play­ers will shrug off the ef­fects of the stormy FA Cup loss to Chelsea when they re­sume Europa League hos­til­i­ties with a de­pleted Ros­tov to­day.

An­der Her­rera’s 35th-minute dis­missal in Mon­day’s FA Cup quar­ter-fi­nal obliged United to toil with 10 men for an hour as they suc­cumbed to a sap­ping 1-0 de­feat at the hands of Mour­inho’s for­mer club.

United have the up­per hand against Ros­tov, hav­ing net­ted an away goal in a 1-1 draw in last week’s last 16, first leg in Rus­sia, but their heavy sched­ule means fresh­ness re­mains a con­cern.

“We have a very im­por­tant match on Thurs­day and I want to rest a lit­tle bit to try to pre­pare the team as best we can,” United man­ager Mour­inho told re­porters at Stam­ford Bridge.

“That’s the most im­por­tant thing now.”

Mour­inho has leapt to the de­fence of Paul Pogba af­ter the un­der-fire mid­fielder came in for fur­ther crit­i­cism following a be­low-par per­for­mance at Chelsea.

Pogba, who re­turned to United from Ital­ian cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus for a world record fee of £89 mil­lion (RM483 mil­lion) in Au­gust, has strug­gled to live up to his hefty price tag, scor­ing seven goals in 40 ap­pear­ances this cam­paign.

“I feel that the world is los­ing val­ues and I am scared about the level of envy com­ing in. It is not Paul’s fault that he gets 10 times the money some play­ers did in the past,” said Mour­inho yes­ter­day.

“It is not his fault that some pun­dits are in real trou­ble with their lives and need ev­ery coin to sur­vive, while Paul is a multi-mil­lion­aire.

“Paul reached the top and no­body gave him any­thing. I am re­ally wor­ried about the way things are go­ing with pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. Envy is ev­ery­where.”

Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic’s sus­pen­sion and in­juries to Wayne Rooney and An­thony Mar­tial meant Mar­cus Rash­ford had to play as a lone striker at Chelsea despite strug­gling with ill­ness.

But while it is un­clear whether Rooney or Mar­tial will fea­ture to­day, Ibrahi­movic and Her­rera will both be at Mour­inho’s dis­posal as their sus­pen­sions only ap­ply to do­mes­tic matches.

Cen­tre-back Eric Bailly is also avail­able again af­ter miss­ing the first leg through sus­pen­sion.

With United’s FA Cup quest over, the Europa League is the only piece of sil­ver­ware Mour­inho’s side can hope to add to the League Cup they won with a 3-2 vic­tory over Southamp­ton last month.

Alek­sandr Bukharov’s sec­ond­half equaliser saved Ros­tov from de­feat last Thurs­day on a tricky pitch that left Mour­inho fum­ing, but Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan’s 35thminute opener meant United were con­tent to re­turn to Eng­land with a draw.

While the tie ap­pears to re­main in the bal­ance, United’s lofty rep­u­ta­tion and Ros­tov’s own se­lec­tion prob­lems have prompted vis­it­ing man­ager Ivan Daniliants to adopt a cau­tious stance.

“I ex­pect a very dif­fi­cult re­turn match,” Daniliants said. “We’re go­ing to Manch­ester hop­ing to pro­duce a mir­a­cle, which some­times hap­pen in foot­ball. Un­for­tu­nately, we will be with­out a set of first-team play­ers there.”

Ros­tov cap­tain Alek­sandr Katskan and Be­laru­sian winger Ti­mofei Kalachev are both sus­pended af­ter be­ing booked in the first leg, while full-back Vladimir Granat sus­tained a frac­tured col­lar­bone.

First-choice goal­keeper Soslan Dzhanaev has only re­cently re­turned from in­jury and is not ex­pected to play at Old Traf­ford.

Else­where, Lyon will look to close out vic­tory away to Roma af­ter an eye-catch­ing 4-2 win last week in which Na­bil Fekir and Alexan­dre La­cazette scored a pair of su­perb late goals.

“Given our strength in at­tack, I think we’ll need to score in or­der to qual­ify,” Lyon goal­keeper An­thony Lopes said.

It is all-square in the all-Ger­man clash be­tween Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach and Schalke, who drew 1-1 in Gelsenkirchen in their first meet­ing.

Dutch giants Ajax will at­tempt to over­come a 2-1 deficit at home to Copen­hagen, while Genk’s 5-2 win at Bel­gian com­pa­tri­ots Gent means they are al­ready within touch­ing dis­tance of the last eight. AFP

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