Manchester United finally seem to be going in the right direction under Jose Mourinho after a slow start to the season. But they are still stuck in sixth position as they battle for a top four finish. Manchester United have lost just one game out of a total of 28 played in all competitions and Mourinho has prioritised the Europa League over the FA Cup in case they don't finish in the top four.
The winner of the Europa League get automatic qualification into next year's Champions League and Mourinho has stressed on numerous occasions that Manchester United need to be in the Champions League.
Manchester United take on Chelsea in the FA Cup later today but it is expected that Mourinho will field a relatively weak team and rest a few key players as he prepares for their second leg Europa League match against Rostov on Thursday.
It will be interesting to see what kind of team Mourinho selects for the FA Cup match against Chelsea as Manchester United do not have any recognised striker available. Also, with the fact that he wants to rest his key players to keep them fit for the Rostov match, the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and a number of youngsters could start for United.
During his pre-match press conference, Mourinho stressed on the fact that Champions League football is a must for a club like Manchester United and also spoke about how his top four rivals have an advantage for the rest of the season as they are not involved in European competitions.
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"For me it's just a game that comes in the wrong moment for us. Because the Europa League is a competition that can give us a Champions League spot, and the FA Cup isn't. So the Europa League is more important than the FA Cup for us" The Mirror quoted the Manchester United manager as saying.
"The boys are doing really well, but we have opponents in different circumstances to us. Arsenal now are out of the Champion League, Chelsea without playing European competition, Liverpool not playing in European competition and we are in this run."
"We have Rostov on Thursday, then we have Middlesbrough on the Sunday at 12.15. It's very difficult for the boys, but these are the boys. Even in a match where it is impossible to play, we don't play, we fight."