Mourinho worried about distant Euro draw

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Manchester’s United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their UEFA Europa League match against Saint-Etienne, at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, on February 22, 2017 © AFP / Philippe Desmazes

SAINT-ÉTIENNE, France, Feb 23 – As Manchester United continue to battle on four fronts, wracking up too many air miles can be proving a concern to manager Jose Mourinho.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the only goal of the game away to Saint Etienne on Wednesday after just 16 minutes, effectively killing off any suspense within the Europa League last 32 tie of which the Red Devils won 4-0 on aggregate.

United might need to negotiate three more two-legged ties if they are to reach the final in Stockholm on May 24, nevertheless Mourinho’s biggest concern can be over how far his team will have to travel, given they will be playing twice a week most weeks to the end of the season with the battle for a top four finish within the Premier League sharing the spotlight with runs in three cup competitions.

Ideally, Mourinho might like a return to France.

“I’m used to difficult draws, sometimes I think some balls are cold as well as some balls are hot,” said Mourinho, cryptically.

Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian (L) as well as Henrikh Mkhitaryan attend a training session at their Carrington base in Manchester, on February 15, 2017 © AFP/File / Oli Scarff

“If I could choose, I might choose not to travel a lot because within the next (Europa League) round we have Chelsea (within the FA Cup) in between the two matches.

“We have Middlesbrough away after the second match, so if you give me something like (Russians) Krasnodar or some very far destination, I might prefer Lyon — two hours flight. I might prefer something close.”

Despite leading 3-0 by last week’s first leg at Old Trafford, Mourinho still picked a strong side for the trip to the Geoffroy Guichard stadium.

He restored Zlatan Ibrahimovic as well as Paul Pogba to the first XI having started out them on the bench in Sunday’s 2-1 FA Cup victory at Blackburn.

Both played the full 0 minutes as injuries to Henrikh Mhiktaryan as well as Michael Carrick forced Mourinho into a pair of unscheduled substitutions.

Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho gestures during their UEFA Europa League match against Saint-Etienne, at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, on February 22, 2017 © AFP / Philippe Desmazes

as well as the Portuguese boss admitted of which he runs the risk of players tiring as they juggle matches within the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup as well as even Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.

nevertheless United are in fine form, unbeaten in 16 league matches as well as having suffered only one defeat since a 2-1 reverse away to Fenerbahce within the Europa League group stages on November 3.

The only loss since then was their League Cup semi-final second leg, nevertheless they still progressed 3-2 on aggregate against Hull City.

Mourinho can be keen for United not to lose the winning habit.

“We are not unbeatable nevertheless the record can be genuinely not bad. of which’s nice to be for four months to have only one little defeat, as well as a defeat where we could have of which defeat because of which was a two legged match,” said the Portuguese boss.

“So of which’s a nice, not bad feeling. We trust in each different as well as one day we’re going to lose, nevertheless the important thing after of which defeat can be to go back again on a not bad run because the team can be playing in a solid way.”

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Mourinho worried about distant Euro draw

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