Mourinho won't give up on EPL title race

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof (left) and Sergio Romero looking dejected after Korey Smith scored Bristol City's second goal in their 2-1 League Cup win in midweek. Both are not expected to play for United today.
Manchester United's Victor Lindelof (left) and Sergio Romero looking dejected after Korey Smith scored Bristol City's second goal in their 2-1 League Cup win in midweek. Both are not expected to play for United today.PHOTO: REUTERS

United boss insists Red Devils can 'win every match', says fringe players have future at club

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has insisted that Manchester United's fringe players could still have a future at the club, even though many of them will not be in contention when his side return to Premier League duty at Leicester today.

The surprise 2-1 League Cup quarter-final defeat by Championship club Bristol City means United will not retain the trophy that Mourinho won last season, his first as manager at Old Trafford.

But the United manager is not about to make any rash decision.

"I don't make decisions based on only one game or one feeling or one night, not at all," he told a press conference yesterday.

"I could be critical with my players but they did enough to win, they lost when they were the only team people believed could win. So we move on and we move on quickly because we have another match."



    Arsenal v Liverpool

    Late kick-off


    Everton v Chelsea 
    Ch102 & Ch227, 8.30pm

    Man City v Bournemouth 
    Ch102 & Ch227, 11pm

    West Ham v Newcastle 
    Ch103 & Ch228, 10.50pm

    Brighton v Watford 
    Ch104 & Ch229, 10.50pm

    Southampton v Huddersfield 
    Ch105 & Ch230, 10.50pm

    Stoke v West Brom 
    Ch106 & Ch231, 10.50pm

    Swansea v Palace 
    Ch107 & Ch232, 10.50pm

    Burnley v Tottenham 
    Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow, 1.30am

    Leicester v Man United 
    Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow, 3.45am 

    All on Singtel TV & StarHub

Mourinho will now focus on the more urgent matter of trying to cut into Manchester City's 11-point lead at the top of the table.

"We are in a race that only ends for us in May against Watford at Old Trafford," added the Portuguese, reiterating that he has not given up on the title race.

"We can win every match."

United are looking for a third consecutive league win, but will face a Leicester side who have won four of their last five league games to climb to eighth.

Paul Pogba, who returned at Bristol following a three-match suspension, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who started his first game of the season and scored in the upset, are likely to be involved at Leicester although Mourinho suggested he would be making numerous changes.

"The reality is that the ones that were on the pitch were the ones that were not in the last (league) match and are the ones that are not going to be in the next match," he had said after the Ashton Gate loss.

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    Manchester United have 41 points after 18 Premier League games - their best start to a season since Alex Ferguson's final season (2012-13) in charge of the Red Devils.

With the possible additional exceptions of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, it appears unlikely that any of the midweek starters will retain their starting positions today.

For players such as Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian, who have struggled to convince Mourinho that they are worthy of regular first-team football, the Bristol defeat could prove especially damaging if not definitive.

And for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose future has been the subject of much speculation amid reports that Mourinho will listen to offers for the Armenian when the January transfer window opens, his 20-minute substitute cameo against the Championship side was hardly encouraging.

Having taken City to penalties before losing their League Cup quarter-final, Foxes defender Christian Fuchs said the former Premier League champions, revitalised under new manager Claude Puel, will enter the weekend with confidence.

"It gives us a good feeling with the way we played," he said. "We didn't win but we kept possession, it felt good and it gives us confidence back. We're happy with the performance. The feeling of disappointment we have now, we can be proud and go into the United game with a good feeling."



Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 3.45am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho won't give up on EPL title race'. Print Edition | Subscribe