Jose Mourinho thanks referee Michael Oliver for ‘saving’ Manchester United’s season

Jose Mourinho has thanked referee Michael Oliver for saving Manchester United from having a “total disaster” of a season.

Mourinho admits he will once again rest and rotate his players at Southampton after a fixture backlog in the build up to the Europa League final.

But Mourinho insists that United would not have been able to cope with a longer FA Cup run and still blames Oliver for their quarter final defeat at Chelsea.

United boss Mourinho was fuming that Ander Herrera was sent off at Stamford Bridge and says that was the reason they were knocked out of the cup.

Michael Oliver

Mourinho said: “I repeat the same – thank you Michael Oliver. Because we were out in the FA Cup. Because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster.

“I don’t know when we would be playing that game. I never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries, not small, not the injuries that you say ‘ok, hamstring, two weeks’.

“No. It’s surgery, boom, boom. It’s surgery – one knee, another knee. Another foot. Just big surgeries. So fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It’s very difficult, really very difficult. But we are there and we go to the final.

“The accumulation of the games, I never had that. You know that in all of my career I was never out of European competitions in the group phases. And in the last 16 I was out only once. So I reached the semi-finals 10 times.

“I go always until the end of the competitions. In the League Cup I normally go far. In the domestic competitions cups, I won in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal so I normally have a lot of matches. But like this I never have, I never have.

“This situation of you play a final and the game that you should play that day is going to be postponed until the last week, for the last week! This is crazy.”

It must be the first time Mourinho has thanked a referee but was doing so sarcastically while also offering up an excuse for their FA Cup exit.

Mourinho admits he will make changes at Southampton, Paul Pogba will not play as he is still mourning the death of his father but Phil Jones, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling will all play.

But Mourinho then admits it is a fine balance between trying to keep players ready for the Europa League final in Stockholm on Wednesday, May 24, while also ensuring they are not burnt out.

Mourinho added: “A final is a final and we have to go to the final with everything like Ajax does because they have finished the season and they do not any more football to play until the football.

“As I was saying, Blind will not be playing against Southampton and Fellaini will because he’s not played the last three matches.

“These are examples of trying not to accumulate when people have to play because we do not have other players and I cannot put four or five kids all together in the fire. I cannot do that to the kids.

“I don’t want to field a team where people have a feeling that we are not fighting for the result. We are fighting for the result. I am going to rotate people.

“But sometimes you need a day off and they don’t know what a day off is. So this is a period in one week when I have to give one day off and now I give a day off to Valencia. It has to be.

“And against Crystal Palace two or three more and against Southampton two or three more and that’s to try to arrive in the final in the best possible conditions.”

Man United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rooney; Martial.


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