Mourinho is serious about FA CUP, rovers

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has suggested foreign managers are devaluing England's FA Cup by fielding under-strength teams that expose them to the risk of upsets.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has suggested foreign managers are devaluing England's FA Cup by fielding under-strength teams that expose them to the risk of upsets.PHOTO: REUTERS

He slams foreign bosses who field weakened sides and urges them to show more respect

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has suggested foreign managers are devaluing England's FA Cup by fielding under-strength teams that expose them to the risk of upsets.

English Premier League sides Liverpool, Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, Watford and Hull City have already lost to lower-league teams this season.

There are also two non-league clubs (Lincoln City and Sutton United) in the fifth round of the competition for the first time ever.

United visit second-tier Blackburn Rovers today and having been stung by an FA Cup defeat at Newcastle United during his first season at Chelsea, Mourinho will not take unnecessary risks.

"Maybe we don't have as many English managers with that culture as we should," the Portuguese said.

"Maybe we foreign managers, not everybody studies and understands the culture of this country. In my case, I had immediately that situation with the match at Newcastle, so for me it was a lesson."

Of the managers to have fallen to lower-league opposition in the FA Cup this season, only Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp, Watford's Walter Mazzarri and Hull's Marco Silva are not British.

United's trip to Blackburn falls before the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday and next Sunday's League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.

Mourinho's FA Cup tie against Newcastle with Chelsea in 2005 arrived in similar circumstances, prior to a Champions League trip to Barcelona and a League Cup final meeting with Liverpool.

He saw a weakened team lose 0-1 at St James' Park and although Chelsea overcame Barcelona and beat Liverpool in the League Cup final to give him his first English trophy, he still regrets the defeat.

"I threw it away," Mourinho said.

"I focused too much on Barcelona and Liverpool. It was good because we beat Barcelona and we won the final against Liverpool. But the feeling I threw it away was not good.

"I go to Blackburn with that respect. We played already Reading and Wigan from the Championship, so it's not new for us, the level and the difficulty of the Championship.

"So I go serious.

"Am I going to repeat this team? No, I'm going to change a few players, obviously.

"But I'm going with a good team because I respect the competition a lot and Man United demands that you go serious to every game."

Mourinho said he did not know whether captain Wayne Rooney, midfielder Michael Carrick or playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan would make the trip to Ewood Park.

Rooney and Carrick missed the win over Saint-Etienne in the first leg on Thursday due to what Mourinho termed "minor" muscular problems, while Mkhitaryan was absent through illness.

"I want them to be fit for Blackburn, I want them to be ready. But I am not sure they will be ready," the United manager said.

"Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ill. He stayed at home (for Thursday's match). The doctors were on it and hoping he would be ready but he was not ready. Let's see."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


BLACKBURN V MAN UNITED
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 19, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho is serious about FA CUP, rovers'. Print Edition | Subscribe