Jose Mourinho has made it clear that he would not field a ‘Nicky Butt team’ for Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter final clash with Chelsea next Monday.
Man United, following their 1-1 draw in Russia on Thursday night, will have just two days to prepare for the clash with Antonio Conte’s side.
The likes of Michael Carrick, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, David de Gea, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia were all left out of the starting XI in Russia ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge.
And Mourinho, speaking after the draw with Ivan Daniliants’ side, was quick to note that he would use his strongest possible XI for the game against his former club.
“We have to keep getting points in the Premier League to let us go to the last month with that door open, and in the Europa League if we manage to go through this round you get to the quarter-final and then you feel the door is open,” he said.
“We have to try by every means. We have a trophy in our pocket which is always a good feeling for everyone.
“But now we have the Premier League to fight for the top four, and the Europa League to fight to beat Rostov.
“Monday we don’t go with a Nicky Butt team. Manchester United is too big, it is the winner of the competition.
“It is not Chelsea’s fault that we were given this Monday match so we have to make changes for sure because we play Monday and Rostov play Sunday, but we can’t go to Stamford Bridge with a Nicky Butt team.”
United can head to Stamford Bridge with a nothing-to-lose type of mindset. They enter the game as complete underdogs, with Chelsea – unbeaten at home since September – entering the encounter following an entire week’s preparation.
An exit from the FA Cup at this stage, whilst undoubtedly frustrating, would at least place the rest of United’s season a clear frame: 11 Premier League games left and, provided they deal with Rostov in the home leg next week, five games from Europa League glory. Mourinho doesn’t receive many chances to enter big games with a sense of freedom, but this is without doubt one of them.