Mourinho reckons Oliver saved United’s season because it would have been a disaster had they reached the FA Cup semis
JOSE MOURINHO claims ref Michael Oliver has inadvertently saved Manchester United’s gruelling season.
And that is because it would have been a disaster had they reached the FA Cup semi-finals.
The United boss takes his stars to their penultimate Prem game of the season at Southampton desperately battling to keep them fresh for next week’s Europa League Final against Ajax in Stockholm.
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The St Mary’s clash will the Red Devils’ SIXTY-FIRST competitive fixture of the season.
And it could have been even worse had they not been knocked out of the FA Cup quarter-finals at Chelsea – where Mourinho slammed ref Oliver for red-carding United midfielder Ander Herrera in their 1-0 defeat.
That March tie caused their trip to Saints to be rearranged for Wednesday night.
Mourinho said: “The situation you should have to play a postponed game in the last week of the season – the last week – is crazy.
“And I repeat the same – thank you Michael Oliver because we were out of 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’ve never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries.
“Not small ones, 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, big surgeries.
“So we’ve had fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It’s been very difficult, really very difficult. But we are here and we go to the final.”
Mourinho insists he has never worked harder in his managerial career as he juggles his jaded, injury-hit squad ahead of their Euro showpiece which could see them qualify for the Champions League.
But he revealed his recipe for success as he said: “I’m having to give holidays a la carte, if you understand what I mean. Monday Daley Blind, one day off, Monday Mkhitaryan one day off. He played 90 minutes, or 70, and now 30 more. Herrera one day off.
“But the guys who played 90 minutes at Tottenham on Sunday I could not give one day off if I want them to play against Southampton as they need two recovering days.
“It is a la carte and trying to have the people the best they can.
“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 as we try to arrive in the final in the best possible conditions.
“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 Stockholm.”
Paul Pogba is likely to be missing again for the trip to Southampton following the death of his father.
Marouane Fellaini could return after serving a ban.
Mourinho said: “I have to build teams with the minimum of conditions to fight for the result. We lost against Arsenal 2-0, we fought for the result.
“We lost 2-1 against Tottenham and we fought for the result and we want to fight for the result.
“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. As I was saying Blind will not be playing against Southampton and Fellaini will because he’s not played the last three matches.
“And 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.”