Jose Mourinho has made it clear that he won’t field a weakened XI for next week’s Champions League group stage clash with CSKA Moscow.
Manchester United need to avoid losing by six goals to slip to second spot and the Russian side would have to win by seven for Mourinho’s side to miss out on the knockout stages.
And with the clash coming ahead of a decisive clash with Manchester City at Old Trafford on Sunday, many have expected the 54-year-old to rest key players.
But Mourinho, speaking at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Arsenal, insisted that he won’t take any liberties next Tuesday.
“I would always try to play the best possible team, even if the Champions League match was a must-win,” he said.
“I would forget it and go for the game one at a time and I would go for the game that is the most important game now, which is the next one.”
“It’s difficult enough, so you must be focused and not thinking about other things.”
Man United’s European adventure this season is currently following a similar pattern to Sir Alex Ferguson‘s final Champions League campaign at Old Trafford, which saw United comfortably win their first four games before taking the gas off in their final two matches, losing 1-0 to Galatasaray and CFR Cluj. Remember them?
And while they battled hard against Real Madrid, perhaps those consecutive defeats set the tone for what was a crushing exit at the last 16 – hallmarked, of course, by that red card for Luis Nani.
Mourinho, therefore, will have to get the balance right, avoiding fielding players with too many minutes in their legs whilst also giving others – Romelu Lukaku for example – a chance to get some confidence ahead of a defining meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side.