Cup line-up headache for United

Manchester United's Chris Smalling sliding in to convert a lay-off from Jesse Lingard and score the opener against Bournemouth at Dean Court. United bounced back from their weekend loss to win 2-0 and consolidate second place in the Premier League, f
Manchester United's Chris Smalling sliding in to convert a lay-off from Jesse Lingard and score the opener against Bournemouth at Dean Court. United bounced back from their weekend loss to win 2-0 and consolidate second place in the Premier League, four points ahead of third-placed Liverpool.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho must mull over team to face Spurs in semi-final after EPL win at Bournemouth

LONDON • Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United have given him an FA Cup semi-final selection dilemma after their 2-0 win at Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Goals from Chris Smalling and substitute Romelu Lukaku sealed the points at Dean Court after Mourinho made seven changes in the aftermath of United's shock 1-0 home league defeat by struggling West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

"Every player on the pitch was positive and put himself available for Saturday," the United manager said. "I will not play this XI at Wembley but all of them told me (with their performances) that they want to play and they are ready. Obviously I will bring back Lukaku, Antonio Valencia, Nemanja Matic."

Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata were among the big names left out of the starting line-up ahead of tomorrow's Cup clash against Tottenham. Smalling, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba were the only survivors from the weekend while Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini and Matteo Darmian got recalled.

Mourinho's hardline stance appeared to sting his players into action, with Smalling opening the scoring in the first half.

Lukaku sealed the points in the closing stages as United consolidated second place on 74 points. They are 14 points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea and will be guaranteed to qualify for the Champions League if the Blues fail to beat Burnley this morning (Singapore time).

Whether Pogba features at Wembley tomorrow will go some way to showing how he figures in Mourinho's long-term plans.

Speculation was mounting over the French midfielder's Old Trafford future come the close-season.

But Pogba, whose driving run and pass set up United's second goal, impressed his boss for at least one night after winning the man-of-the-match award.

"Paul Pogba played very well," Mourinho said. "Today he was very, very good. A good choice."

United legend and BT Sport pundit Paul Scholes is hoping that Sanchez - who has two goals and three assists in the league since joining the Red Devils in January - will continue to be left out of the starting lineup.

"I think the big decision is who plays either side of Lukaku," the former midfielder told BT Sport. "I'd go (Marcus) Rashford and (Anthony) Martial but I think he will probably bring Sanchez back into it. I just don't think (Sanchez's) form has been good enough. I think he's been quite predictable - we all know the talent he's got.

"Obviously there is a magnificent player in there but, at Manchester United, he's just not showing it yet. I think Martial and Rashford are better options."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Cup line-up headache for United'. Print Edition | Subscribe