Jose Mourinho has bemoaned what he feels is his hardest-ever season in football, with Manchester United’s efforts undermined by a series of injuries to their players.
United have three games left this term – Southampton away on Wednesday, Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday, and then the Europa League final with Ajax next Wednesday – the latter of which you can see for free.
The clash in Stockholm will be United’s 64th match of an epic season – and Mourinho admits it has been difficult to get through the year amid a succession of injuries to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo.
And while Mourinho is used to long seasons because of his success at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid he claims this season’s problems have been unique.
“It is the hardest I have ever worked,” said Mourinho.
“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 I went out at the last 16 stage 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. I won domestic cups in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal so I normally have a lot of matches.
“But I ave never had it like this. This situation when you play a final [the League Cup] and the Premier League game that you should play that day [Southampton tomorrow] is going to be postponed until the last week – the last week!- this is crazy.”
Mourinho claims their fixtures backlog would have been far greater had they made FA Cup progress at Chelsea’s expense at the quarter-finals stage and admits he has no idea how they’d have fitted in a semi-final date.
He added: “I repeat the same – thank you Michael Oliver [for sending off Ander Herrera]. 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 [we’ve had] 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.”