Football: Mourinho will not take Hull lightly

United will deploy their big guns such as Paul Pogba (above), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia against Hull tonight.
United will deploy their big guns such as Paul Pogba (above), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia against Hull tonight.PHOTO: REUTERS

He'll bring back some regulars for League Cup semis to manage progress on 3 fronts

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has pledged to bring out the heavy artillery for today's English League Cup semi-final first leg at home to Premier League basement club Hull City.

United cruised into the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday after registering an eighth consecutive win by crushing second-tier Reading 4-0 at Old Trafford.

They face a showdown with fellow League Cup semi-finalists Liverpool in the league at the weekend, but, with a day out at Wembley only 180 minutes away, Mourinho does not want to take any chances.

"We play against Liverpool, a big match for us, but we want to be in the final," he said. "So we are going to face this Hull match with everything we have, all the power we have, as we know it's two legs, but the second leg is away.

"If we can do something in the first leg that gives us the advantage, we will try to do that."

Mourinho made a number of changes for the visit of former United defender Jaap Stam's Reading and has revealed he will restore several first-team regulars for the visit of Hull.

"I'll play with the players that didn't play (against Reading)," said Mourinho, who won three League Cups over his two spells as Chelsea manager.

"I played with fresh players and I don't want to say anything about first-choice or second-choice, but we played with fresh players, the players who didn't play against West Ham.

"In the next match against Hull City we are going to play again with fresh players. So it's easy to know our team - Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), (Paul) Pogba, (Ander) Herrera, (Antonio) Valencia."

Wayne Rooney, 31, equalled Bobby Charlton's United scoring record by netting his 249th goal for the club against Reading, but he is likely to drop to the bench against Hull.

Mourinho believes midfielder Michael Carrick and striker Ibrahimovic, both 35, as well as Rooney must be utilised sparingly in order to get the best out of the final phase of their careers.

"It's always a pity when these guys they go to the end, but they get older and we cannot stop the clock," the Portuguese manager said.

"But when they take good care about themselves, when the wives help, when they train well, when the manager and the staff are intelligent enough to understand the difference between the body of a teenager or the body of a man of thirty- something... they can delay the end of their careers."

Centre-back Marcos Rojo is a doubt, however, after being withdrawn against Reading with a muscular problem.

With Eric Bailly having departed for the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, it could leave Phil Jones and Chris Smalling as United's only fit senior centre-backs.

Marco Silva made a winning start to life as Hull coach with a 2-0 victory over Swansea in the FA Cup on Saturday and he will relish the prospect of tackling fellow Portuguese Mourinho.

"It is a fantastic moment for the club that we play Manchester United in a semi-final," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho will not take Hull lightly'. Print Edition | Subscribe