Jose Mourinho has expressed his discontent following Manchester United’s 1-0 win over FC Rostov in the Europa League, noting that his side would struggle to deal with the pressures of continued European exploits whilst the top five focus purely on the Premier League.
Juan Mata‘s 70th minute strike against the Russian side was enough to send Man United through to their first other Europa League quarter-final.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all recently suffered ignominious exits from Europe, leaving just United and Leicester City in contention for European glory this season.
And Mourinho, when asked about Man City’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Monaco on Wednesday, was quick to note that seeing the entire top five relieved of European exploits serves as bad news for United’s prospects of breaching the top four this season.
“I’m very disappointed,” Mourinho said.
“I’m not making fun of it. I’m feeling it. It’s bad for us for many reasons.
“All the five teams in front of us in the Premier League, nobody has international football so will be playing one match per week like some of them have been all season.
“They don’t know what fatigue is. We fight until the limits.”
It almost feels as if the footballing gods, perhaps as a kind of providential balancing act following an undeserved League Cup win over Southampton, are slowly but surely ensuring that United endure a sticky last couple of months of the season
Some examples: that missed penalty against AFC Bournemouth; that pitch at Rostov; playing at Stamford Bridge, of all places, on a Monday night with ten men having just made a trip to Russia; Paul Pogba’s hamstring injury; Marouane Fellaini in general.
Small things, granted, but when totted up they present United with a truly difficult landscape heading into the climax of the season. More minor afflictions are sure to come, and Mourinho will know that he – and indeed his players – will be judged on the basis of how hard they fight in the face of so many detrimental factors over the next two months.