Sol­sk­jaer claims Chelsea given ‘un­fair’ ad­van­tage for semi-fi­nal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By James Ducker

Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer has hit out at the “un­fair” sched­ul­ing of Man- ch­ester United’s FA Cup semi-fi­nal on Sun­day amid con­cern Chelsea have been handed an ad­van­tage.

United face Crys­tal Palace in a cru­cial Pre­mier League game at Sel­hurst Park tonight know­ing they will have had 48 hours less to pre­pare for their Wem­b­ley show­down than Chelsea, who beat Nor­wich City 1-0 on Tues­day night.

And Sol­sk­jaer has raised ques­tions about how the fix­tures have been sched­uled.

“There is a con­cern, ob­vi­ously, that they [Chelsea] will have had 48 hours’ more rest and re­cov­ery than us. It’s not fair,” the United man­ager said. “We spoke about a fair sched­ul­ing go­ing into this restart and, of course, it isn’t. But I have to think about Thurs­day, win­ning that one [against Palace], fo­cus­ing on that one, and then pick up the pieces af­ter that.”

Sol­sk­jaer in­sisted he would not pick his team against Palace with Sun­day’s game in mind, know­ing wins from their fi­nal three league matches will guar­an­tee qual­i­fi­ca­tion for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League. But the United man­ager has been con­sid­er­ing giv­ing Paul Pogba a rest and has a de­ci­sion to make at left-back, with Luke Shaw strug­gling with a twisted an­kle and Bran­don Wil­liams re­quir­ing six stitches to a cut around his left eye fol­low­ing Mon­day’s 2-2 draw against Southamp­ton.

Sol­sk­jaer be­lieves his side are far fit­ter now than they were to­wards the end of last sea­son and ex­pects his play­ers to cope against Chelsea, but he is not im­pressed by the sched­ul­ing. “It’s not go­ing to be a prob­lem and a con­cern for us, but 24 hours, 48 hours is a big dif­fer­ence at this time [of the sea­son] so we’ve not been handed four aces, to put it that way, for the last two weeks,” he said.

“But we’re go­ing to have to put on a poker face and play the cards well. The next two weeks will be hec­tic but we’re very fit – our lads have not felt as fit as this for years.

“It was a big thing to­wards the end of last sea­son that we felt our team wasn’t fit enough, we got a few in­juries. This sea­son we’ve not had that kind of a prob­lem.”

Sol­sk­jaer be­lieves Pogba’s form

has made him in­dis­pens­able but, af­ter six months out fol­low­ing an­kle surgery, the man­ager said he would dis­cuss the mid­fielder’s fit­ness with him be­fore Palace af­ter start­ing the French­man in the last five league games. “I’ve been speak­ing more or less every day with Paul,” he said.

“He knows that he wouldn’t be dropped. When Paul plays like this he wouldn’t be dropped from any team in the world – France or Man United – but he’s been out for a long, long time. There was a ques­tion mark be­fore the game [against Southamp­ton], ‘How do you feel?’ But he felt ready for it, which was great, so now let’s see how he is to­day or even to­mor­row morn­ing.”

Sol­sk­jaer has also stressed the con­tin­u­ing im­por­tance of Uefa’s fi­nan­cial fair play rules, de­spite crit­ics claim­ing they have been se­verely un­der­mined by Manch­ester City suc­cess­fully over­turn­ing their two-year Euro­pean ban in the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport.

“With FFP, it was brought in to keep foot­ball clubs fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able and that’s im­por­tant and they give us rules, that’s what we’re fo­cus­ing on and let other peo­ple dis­cuss the rights and wrongs,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.