Manchester United booked thier place in the last eight of the Europa League with victory over FC Rostov on Thursday evening at Old Trafford. Celerbrations were halted when United’s injury list increased, as Paul Pogba and Daley Blind were taken off in the early part of the second half, adding to Jose Mourinho’s injury woes.
Jose Mourinho’s men were made to work for the victory against Rostov which sees them to be one of the favourites to win the Europa League. They won 2-1 on aggregate against a weakened team, who could only field three outfield substitutes on the bench due to injuries and suspensions, which raises the question on why United struggled to beat their opponents last night?
Another disappointing loss was Paul Pogba, who limped off minutes after the second half started with a suspected hamstring injury, resulting in Mourinho being without many of his stars for the up and coming Premier League fixture against Middlesbrough on Sunday. United have struggled with injuries of late, which was evident on Monday at the loss to Chelsea, which saw them knocked out of the FA Cup.
Jose faces a selection headache as Pogba & Blind joining Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Bastian Schwiensteiger on the sidelines. Further adding to his woes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera are ineligible to play on Sunday, after Ibrahimovic was banned for elbowing Bournemouth’s Mings for three matches, whilst Andre Herrera was sent of in the loss to Chelsea on Monday. The game against Middlesbrough on Sunday may have been a formality, before thursday evenings game against FC Rostov, however their opponents will fancy their chances against a weakened Manchester United on the weekend.
With the fixture list piling up for United, the impending international break is a welcomed distraction, as United will look to use this break to get some well deserved rest. The United manager will be hoping that none of his team get injured, whilst on international duty with their respected teams, so he is able to have a full squad of players available to him when they return.
United currently have two games in hand over their rivals in the Premier League due to their participation in cup matches, they will look to gain ground this weekend, looking to secure three points in thier battle for a top four place. Champions League qualification is a priority for Jose’s men, with the world watching and the pressure growing, the United manager needs his team to be back to full strength as soon as possible as he will need to fully utilise the squad with his upcoming fixtures. They are currently waiting to learn when the fixtures against Manchester City and Southampton will be rescheduled. Mourinho will be praying that these fixtures are a bit kinder to his schedule than his current one.
The Old Trafford faithful may be looking to add the Europa League to the trophy cabinet, but the fans will be unconcerned about this so long as the Theatre of Dreams welcomes back Europe’s elite teams next season, with United looking ahead to be part of the Champions League once again. Will they do it? It will be tough but they have match winners all over the pitch so Europe’s finest may come visiting once again.