It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho goes into most of his press conferences to set an agenda.
Wednesday was no different.
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After Manchester United’s poor display in a 0-0 draw at Southampton, Mourinho slammed the scheduling of their final game of the season against Crystal Palace on Sunday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
Why? United play in the UEFA Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, Sweden, three days later.
“In any country in the world, the match would be Saturday. We are sixth, it doesn’t matter what [happens on Sunday]. Crystal Palace are safe,” Mourinho said. “So I think after the moment Crystal Palace beat Hull City and Hull are relegated, and Swansea are safe, I think in that moment the match has to be Saturday. In any country in the world, it would be Saturday. It’s frustrating for me.”
Mourinho was then asked if he’d made a request to have the game changed and simply said it was “a lost battle” and that English clubs playing in European competitions were not protected.
Does he have a point with this airing of grievances?
No. Not really. Mourinho has long been complaining about the number of games his team have had to play this season. They have currently played 61 times in all competitions after reaching the FA Cup quarterfinal, winning the EFL Cup and reaching the final of the Europa League.
With the Portuguese rotating his squad due to injury and freshness concerns over the past few weeks, his side haven’t won in their last five Premier League outings and they will finish in sixth place.
He placed all his eggs in one basket a few weeks ago and Mourinho complaining about the number of games his team have to play simply covers up the fact that this team has had an uninspiring season in the Premier League.
If United win the Europa League, as expected, against Ajax then all of this will be forgotten. However, if the Red Devils slip up and aren’t in the Champions League next season then Mourinho will be reminded about this tactic to slack of in the PL in the final month of the season when his team had a legitimate chance of finishing in the top four.
Any team, or manager, which is successful has to deal with a huge number of games. The amount of money United has spent on star names, plus the sheer depth in their squad, suggests that Mourinho should have no issues whatsoever juggling all of these games and doing better than United has done in the PL.