Jose Mourinho believes that Manchester United will “probably lose” their game against Middlesbrough on Sunday due to increasing levels of fatigue within the squad.
Man United embarked on their eighth game in just over a month against FC Rostov on Thursday night, reaching the Europa League quarter final for the first time following Juan Mata‘s 70th minute strike.
The Portuguese’s side will face another eight games over April and could – depending on how far they go in Europe – end up playing 64 games this season.
And Mourinho, speaking after the win over Rostov, noted that the fatigue plaguing his side would preclude them from claiming three points at the Riverside on Sunday.
“We were afraid of extra time. It was a difficult game. We have lots of enemies,” he said.
“Normally the enemies should be Rostov but we have a lot of enemies. It’s difficult to play Monday with 10 men, it’s difficult to play now, it’s difficult to play 12 o’clock on Sunday. We have a lot of enemies.
“A lot of people might say we should have scored more goals. But a lot of things are going against us. The boys are amazing boys. We will probably lose the game on Sunday. Fatigue has a price.”
Such a comment from a younger, more volatile Mourinho would be most likely passed off as ‘mind games’, used specifically for nothing other than ruffling the opponent’s feathers. But I worry that Mourinho – and we’re talking about the present day Mourinho here, the one with the sharper haircut and serious, deeply set eyes – speaks from experience on this occasion.
The Portuguese has always been quite anecdotal when illustrating his views, after all, and one suspects that he could give you a litany of instances where fatigue – as always accumulated during this chaotic springtime period for sides still in Europe – culminates in an ignominious defeat away at a side trawling at the bottom of the table.
Mourinho has been in the game long enough to make such predictions, but United fans will hope that the boss, on this occasions, proves himself wrong.