Jose Mourinho has stressed the importance of the Europa League to Manchester United after once again bemoaning the fixture scheduling on his side.
Mourinho’s men face Russian side FC Rostov on Thursday at Old Trafford looking for a win to send them through to the last eight of the competition.
The tournament is clearly something Mourinho values, knowing success in the Europa League guarantees his side a return to the Champions League.
“Its a very important competition for us, we said that from the beginning,” he told a media conference on Wednesday morning.
“In every match since day one, we’ve played with a very strong selection. We really want to progress.
“Tomorrow we go with everything that we have, the fans will give us a little bit of extra energy.
“Tomorrow we believe we can cope with the situation and reach the quarter-final.”
Mourinho admits progress will be anything but routine for United.
“We know that the 1-1 result leaves everything open,” he continues.
“We know Rostov is a very good team. We are so many matches away and some of those are against big opponents who have experience in the Champions League.
“1-1 is a very doubtful result.”
United didn’t arrive back from Monday’s FA Cup defeat at Chelsea until 4am on Tuesday morning and the Portuguese coach has again lamented the way the matches have fallen on his side.
“First gift was to play Monday, second was 10 men, third was to have promenade on M6,” he said – the third point referring to an airplane mix-up by Manchester United staff following defeat at Chelsea.
“But we are professionals so the next morning we were here to train and today the same.
“Only thing I tell you is that my players put effort in on Monday night and Tuesday 12oclock they trained again.
“I have a fantastic group of guys here, the effort they put in is fantastic. That’s all I can say.”
In reference to Monday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho added: “My players did what everybody saw on Monday.
“Tuesday 12.30 they were here as great pros. That is the only thing I can say”
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United will start with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front against the Russians, with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial once again ruled out.
Mourinho has confirmed that the Red Devils skipper Rooney has a “kick in his knee area”, while on Martial he added: “He was injured for Chelsea match.
“He is out of my mind. It’ll be the same players we had in last match [at Chelsea], plus Ibrahimovic.”
On Ibrahimovic’s return to the side from a domestic suspension, Mournho concluded: “It’s a big boost but we never cry about absences. Now we have him and next match we don’t.
“We are always positive, when one player is out then another one can play.”