Jose Mourinho has confirmed that all of his Manchester United stars involved in the World Cup semi-finals onwards will not be considered for the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.
United have seven representatives needed for duty for the final weekend of Russia 2018 – a total bettered only by Totteham (nine), and level with Manchester City and Chelsea.
With Paul Pogba set to contest Sunday’s final for France against Croatia, he will join Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku – who both played big roles for Belgium as they claimed a third-place finish – and England squad stars Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford in missing the opening day of the new season.
The decision comes after Manchester United boss Mourinho decided that all those involved will need a minimum three weeks to recover and to prepare mentally and physically for the rigours of a new Premier League season.
“The majority of the big teams will be without players because we cannot start the Premier League with our players involved in the World Cup,” Mourinho told Russia Today. “It’s a shame for the most important club competition in Europe.”
He continued: “They are going to have three weeks off, which I think is the minimum that their body and souls need, and is the minimum to make them return with conditions to think about football again.
“I think to bring them back before that would be like: OK I have you for the first match of the season, but maybe I don’t have you in three or four months.
“So it think the three weeks is the minimum that they need which means they are going to need to be back in the week when the Premier League starts which means they are not ready to start the Premier League.”
Typically, Mourinho then went on to criticise the scheduling of the Premier League, with United due to kick-off the new season at home to Leicester on the Fright night, August 10.
“I think it’s difficult to understand [why the Premier League returns so soon] when we could have perfectly had one more week for everybody to prepare everybody,” he added.
“For example the Community Shield I imagine is going to be Chelsea’s second team against Manchester City’s second team. Am I going to watch the Community Shield? Not at all. I am not going to lose my time.
“And I think probably the majority of fans are going to think about it the same way. And then the beginning of the Premier League – unless Pep and Jurgen and Mauricio think differently than me – the players that reached the semi-finals and the final they cannot start the Premier League.”
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