Mour­inho blasts ‘not hu­man’ sched­ule for Devils

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER: Jose Mour­inho de­scribed Manch­ester United’s jammed-packed sched­ule as “not hu­man” af­ter a grow­ing in­jury list threat­ened to wreck hopes of a place in next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League.

A 1-1 draw with Swansea on Sun­day was a sixth stale­mate in eight games at Old Traf­ford and harmed hopes of fin­ish­ing in the top four.

To make mat­ters worse for United, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly also suf­fered game-end­ing in­juries, leav­ing Mour­inho with a ma­jor per­son­nel cri­sis ahead of Thurs­day’s Europa League first leg semi-fi­nal visit to Celta Vigo.

The pair joined fel­low de­fend­ers Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who have been out since late-March, on the in­jury list and their ab­sence means United will travel to Spain with­out a recog­nised cen­tre-back.

“I don’t know about the in­juries,” said gloomy United man­ager Mour­inho.

“I think Luke Shaw’s must be a big in­jury, be­cause to leave the pitch af­ter 10 min­utes I am ex­pect­ing a very big in­jury,” added the Por­tuguese boss, who has pub­licly crit­i­cised the left-back sev­eral times this sea­son.

“I pre­fer not to speak about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. I don’t think they will play, that is my per­sonal opin­ion. I pre­fer to speak about Juan Mata giv­ing ev­ery­thing to be avail­able. I am grate­ful for that.”

Sun­day’s draw saw United set a new club record of 25 con­sec­u­tive games with­out de­feat in the same top-flight sea­son.

But it was also the team’s 57th game of an ex­haust­ing cam­paign. In com­par­i­son, Swansea have played 19 games fewer — ex­actly half an en­tire league sea­son.

“We lost play­ers and we lost points, so yes to­day was a bad day,” said Mour­inho, whose side ended the week­end just out­side the Cham­pi­ons League places in fifth spot, a point and a po­si­tion be­low Manch­ester City.

“We did not look tired and ex­hausted, we are tired and ex­hausted,” he in­sisted.

“You can­not iso­late the per­for­mance out of the con­text. This is the ninth match of April, it is not hu­man. We have a squad of 22 that is re­duced to 13 or 14 play­ers. The play­ers are very tired.”

Paul Pogba and Marouane Fel­laini will re­turn against Vigo, from in­jury and sus­pen­sion re­spec­tively, and Mour­inho will have to ex­plore emer­gency de­fen­sive op­tions which could in­clude veteran mid­fielder Michael Car­rick and un­tried young­ster Axel Tuanzebe.

“I know that the play­ers I choose they give ev­ery­thing,” said Mour­inho. “So it doesn’t mat­ter if I go with (Mat­teo) Darmian cen­tral de­fender, if I go with Car­rick or Axel Tuanzebe.

“I trust the boys, the spirit is amaz­ing, the group is phe­nom­e­nal. Fel­laini and Pogba will be back for that game, so a bit more op­tions and we try with ev­ery­thing we have and we go again,” the for­mer Chelsea boss added.

Gylfi Sig­urds­son equalised late for Swansea with a mag­nif­i­cent free-kick that can­celled out a con­tro­ver­sial first half penalty scored by Wayne Rooney.

That de­ci­sion came af­ter Mar­cus Rash­ford went down un­der a chal­lenge from vis­it­ing goal­keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski, an in­ci­dent that in­fu­ri­ated Swansea man­ager Paul Cle­ment.

“I’m not say­ing he cheated, I’m us­ing the word ‘de­ceived’,” said Cle­ment of Rash­ford’s be­hav­iour. AFP

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