Football: Mourinho blasts fixture congestion

Bastian Schweinsteiger scoring Manchester United's fourth goal against Wigan in the fourth round of the FA Cup. United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at home and remain in the hunt for four trophies - the Premier League, the League Cup, the FA Cup a
Bastian Schweinsteiger scoring Manchester United's fourth goal against Wigan in the fourth round of the FA Cup. United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at home and remain in the hunt for four trophies - the Premier League, the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Europa League.PHOTO: REUTERS

United boss irked by overload of games and has a dig at rivals not competing in Europe

MANCHESTER • Jose Mourinho has launched another stinging attack on the lack of help being afforded to Manchester United by the football authorities as he attempts to win silverware on four fronts over the final months of the season.

The irascible coach has described a mounting schedule as a "nonsense" and "a laugh" in an extraordinary outburst that followed his side's comfortable passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 home win on Sunday over Championship side Wigan.

That leaves United as the only English team battling for four trophies - the League Cup final with Southampton, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Premier League - and facing as many as 67 games by the end of the season should they go all the way in the FA Cup and Europa League.

United face Southampton in the League Cup final on Feb 26, so their Premier League derby against Manchester City must be rearranged and they also resume their Europa League campaign next month.

"I think the Premier League is almost an impossible mission but I only think about winning the next match," said Mourinho, who has griped about the fixture list before.

"In the League Cup, we have 50 per cent chance of winning it. In the FA Cup, we are in the last 16. In the Europa League, we are in the last 32, so lots of matches to play.

"I can imagine we are going to have some nice gifts. Like Watford today, they had an amazing gift. They played today in the FA Cup and they are to play on Tuesday in the Premier League.

"It's a laugh. There were so many matches played yesterday, how is it possible a team plays today and plays again Tuesday? It is absolute nonsense. This is not just for Watford. I know many of those surprises will be waiting for us.

"Some people get more difficult jobs than others, I got the biggest job in the country, one of the biggest jobs in the world. (It is) a job I can imagine everyone would like to have, but I got a difficult one."

He was critical of title contenders Liverpool and his former club Chelsea and noted they had fewer games to worry about because they did not qualify for Europe.

"Compared with other clubs - Liverpool will play 16 matches the rest of the season, Chelsea will play 16, plus some in the FA Cup, and we are in this really crazy situation," he added.

"Southampton will have 15 days without football before the final. We are going to play two matches against St Etienne and the next round of the FA Cup, so the calendar in the best country in world football is nonsense."

Mourinho also told GQ men's magazine that he turned down a "big offer" to go to China but did not disclose which club made the proposal.

He added he had no knowledge of reports linking Wayne Rooney with a possible big-money move to China before the end of the current season. The Chinese transfer deadline runs until the end of February.

"The only player who could leave Old Trafford before the transfer window in England closes today is Ashley Young," said Mourinho.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely to stay. He started his first game in more than a year and scored his first goal in 14 months to complete the rout against the Latics.

Mourinho said: "He is going on our Europa League list because we have opened spaces with (Memphis) Depay and (Morgan) Schneiderlin (leaving) and we don't have many players.

"We don't have many options in midfield. Ninety minutes today was probably too hard for him but now I think he is happy. With so many competitions and games, he will be an option."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho attacks fixture congestion'. Print Edition | Subscribe