Jose Mourinho insists resting key players for Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal was no gamble after a spate of injuries saddled him with an “impossible” selection dilemma.
United’s hopes of a Premier League top-four finish took a heavy blow with last Sunday’s defeat to Arsene Wenger’s Gunners in north London – a match for which Mourinho left Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba out of his starting line-up.
The Red Devils manager chose to prioritise United’s Europa League semi-final fixtures against Celta Vigo instead due to the fact that winning the trophy will seal automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
The decision looks set to pay off after collecting a 1-0 away win in the first leg against Celta before their loss at Arsenal, though Mourinho says that his tactics were “common sense” after injuries to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw forced his hand as the likes of Wayne Rooney and debutant Axel Tuanzebe played at the Emirates.
“The situation is simple,” he told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Old Trafford clash against Celta. “Seventeen matches in seven weeks with 16 players is impossible.
“It’s not a gamble, it was a simple decision, based on common sense. In April and May, 17 matches with 16 players, is completely impossible.
“So, since the moment we lost players, and we lost initially four of them in one week when we lost [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones from the national team and we lost Zlatan and Rojo against Anderlecht in that moment and, after that, we lost boys that could be good alternatives – Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Tim Fosu-Mensah.
“So, when we lost these players in a period of 17 matches in seven weeks, it was an impossible job. It was not a gamble, just a consequence of our situation.
“We are in this situation now and we have to fight for it, so let’s see if tomorrow we can do it and if we can go to the final.
“But it doesn’t matter what, no regrets. We are giving everything we can, the players, myself, everyone that works around here. We are giving everything so, when you give everything, no problem.”
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