18 May United need time for Europa League final
Jose Mourinho insists Manchester United’s final fixture of the Premier League season should have been moved to Saturday to give them further time to prepare for next week’s Europa League final against Ajax.
He has revealed plans to field a weakened team on Sunday when they host Crystal Palace, three days before the showpiece that could earn him a second major trophy with United and secure qualification for the Champions League.
In Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Southampton he again selected an understrength XI, omitting Marcus Rashford, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and David de Gea.
United will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of their match with Palace, who are also safe from relegation with three teams already down, and because of its insignificance is disappointed English football authorities have not intervened.
“In any country in the world the match would be Saturday, because Sunday we are sixth, doesn’t matter what, and Crystal Palace are safe,” said the Portuguese, 54.
“So after the moment Palace beat Hull and Hull are relegated, and Swansea is safe, in that moment the match has to be Saturday, in any country in the world it would be Saturday. (But) it’s going to be Sunday.
“It’s frustrating for me. I hope you don’t kill me when you see my team. I don’t lose time. When I know the battle is lost I don’t fight.
“The next match Joel (Pereira, United’s 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper) is playing his first match in the Premier League.
“I’m here (in English football) already seven years, I never saw any detail of trying to care about the English teams involved in European competitions. I never saw. It’s just a lost battle, we have to accept the way it is.
“I hope the fans on Sunday support the team, they forgive some naivety, they forgive some lack of confidence and I hope Big Sam (Allardyce, Palace’s manager) shows he’s a good friend and he goes slow. Tells (Wilfried) Zaha to go slow, leaves (Christian) Benteke at home. I hope he goes soft on us.”
Mourinho also reiterated his optimism De Gea would remain at the club, having earlier confirmed he would not play again this season, and amid increasing speculation linking the Spaniard with a transfer to Real Madrid.
“I don’t go with (Sergio Romero can replace De Gea) ‘if he leaves’ because I hope he doesn’t,” he said. “We need two top goalkeepers and a top young goalkeeper and this is what we have.”
Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger plans to review manager Claude Puel’s future at the season’s end, and after his team failed to score for the fourth home game in succession, sections of their supporters booed them off.
“Any team has a debrief at the end of the season and this is normal but the end of the season is after the last game,” said Puel, 55.
“It is important to keep the good focus about the pitch and we have the possibility to finish (eighth in) the table.”