LONDON • Jose Mourinho believes that English football would be better off without the League Cup, just seven months after winning the competition with Manchester United.
The Portuguese manager celebrated the first major silverware of his United reign when his team beat Southampton 3-2 at Wembley last season.
But, after watching United kick off their defence of the trophy with a 4-1 win over second-tier strugglers Burton at a well-below capacity Old Trafford on Wednesday, Mourinho conceded the tournament often does more harm than good.
He showed where the League Cup ranks on his priority list by making nine changes as Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial scored United's goals.
Even Burton manager Nigel Clough, more concerned with Championship survival, made nine changes to reduce the tie to virtual reserve-clash status.
The fact Burton view the early weeks of the league season as more important than a trip to Old Trafford highlights the issues with a competition that Mourinho believes could be dispensable.
"You know, if the competition is an official competition, it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager and I want the players to think the same way," Mourinho, who is the only one of the current 92 league managers to win it, told the BBC.
Draw for the 4th round
(division of non-Premier League clubs in brackets)
Tottenham v West Ham
Bristol City (II) v Crystal Palace
Swansea v Manchester United
Arsenal v Norwich City (II)
Chelsea v Everton
Manchester City v Wolverhampton (II)
Leicester v Leeds (II)
Bournemouth v Middlesbrough (II)
"If you ask me could English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe.
"Maybe we would be fresher for European competitions, for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents, we have to respect the professionalism of all of us trying to do the best.
4 Marcus Rashford has now scored four braces for United, with each one coming in a different competition.
"If we can win it, we win it. If we don't win, it is because the opponents were better than us."
Mourinho has won the League Cup, which dates from the 1960-61 season, four times, including three with Chelsea, while United have lifted the trophy five times.
United knocked out Burton in what is becoming familiar fashion this season. This fourth four-goal haul made it a total of 24 in eight outings in all competitions.
Rashford scored twice and terrorised Burton to be the night's best performer, while Mourinho also praised his other forwards.
"Martial was good, Lingard was good, everybody in attacking areas gave dynamic in the team. We look happy playing this moment," he said.
As for Burton, Clough suggested it was "lovely for our supporters that we got a goal" - that particular consolation coming from the left boot of Lloyd Dyer in stoppage time.
It was, all told, a mismatch from the moment Rashford opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON