Paul Ince: Jose Mourinho’s weakened squad claims are rubbish – and prioritising the Europa League is ‘naïve’

Former United midfielder lashes out at Jose Mourinho’s squad moans, saying his side should’ve been good enough to beat Arsenal, and labels their Europa League tunnel vision a massive risk...

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Mourinho is taking a massive risk

Jose Mourinho keeps going on about playing a ‘weakened’ team against Arsenal to save themselves for the Europa League second leg. It’s rubbish. They’ve got some really unfortunate injuries but they still have an excellent squad and should be able to cope with playing both games.

The team that Mourinho fielded on Sunday should be more than capable of beating Arsenal, and we all saw what happened there. I’ve looked at the league table since the game and thought to myself, come on! If United had beat Arsenal, they’d be on 68 points with a game in hand and in a really advantageous position to make the top four. Champions League would’ve been in touching distance.

I can see they’re clearly going for the Europa League as the main target, but I think that’s naïve. If they’d put out a slightly stronger team last week, they’d be touching top four. Just imagine if they hadn’t let so many silly points drop earlier in the season.

It’s a massive risk, but if Mourinho takes United to the final and they win, people will say he did the right thing.

United aren’t taking their chances – Vigo may punish them

The thing with Manchester United putting all their eggs in one basket, is that they don’t take chances when they need to. Against Celta Vigo in the first leg, they looked decent but they just weren’t clinical enough with their chances. That makes you worry if they get to the final.

There’s no doubt that they’re playing some good football, but when it really matters in front of goal, they’re not coming up with the goods. That’s even tougher with Zlatan Ibrahimovic injured. They were punished for it against Arsenal, Wayne Rooney had a brilliant opportunity when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

The fact is, United didn’t take their chances, so Arsenal made sure they took theirs.

Right time for Rooney to move on

People keep talking about Wayne Rooney  as though he’s 36 or 37. He’s only 31!  He’s played a load of football at a top level for years, at club and country, and of course it can take its toll on the body.

That shouldn’t impact his mind or his footballing brain, though. He still knows where to be on the pitch, and he still knows how to pick out a deadly pass. Regardless of game-time, he’s still one of the best technically gifted players in the Premier League. The thing with Rooney is that if he’s not playing every week, as we saw against Arsenal, he’s obviously going to lose his sharpness. When chances come along, it makes it tougher to put the ball in the back of the net.

I find it hard to imagine, knowing how much he loves football, that he’ll be comfortable with being third or fourth choice. He’s used to being the first name on the team sheet! So you could well understand why he might feel it’s time to move on, and in reality it probably is.

 

What do you think?