Jose Mourinho is in limbo over his team selection for Manchester United’s game against FC Rostov due to the state of the pitch in Russia.
Unsurprisingly the conditions in Rostov are far from ideal and Mourinho will be concerned over injuries to his players, much like he was out in Beijing during the pre-season tour where the pitch was once again in poor condition.
Speaking at his FC Rostov press conference, Mourinho raised these concerns and admitted he didn’t know whether he could play Henrikh Mkhitaryan because of the pitch.
He said: “It is hard for me to believe that we are going to play on that field, if you can call it a field.
“And I don’t know what team to play, really. I don’t know if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to play. I don’t know.
“I have now a lot to think because I was expecting something more playable.
“In a very similar pitch in the summer in China we decided not to play but it looks like we have to play.”
As I said earlier, it’s hardly a surprise to hear the Rostov pitch is in a bad state and surely Mourinho would have known that before flying out to Russia. That’s why I found it strange Mkhitaryan went out there at all, so why risk taking him in the first place?
United are going to have to deal with the Rostov pitch tomorrow and simply try to come away from the game hopefully with a slender lead and no injuries. It’s situations like this which make the Europa League look like a farce on occasion because pitches in knockout rounds in the Champions League are like snooker tables by comparison.
For me, playing Mkhitaryan in any capacity would be a risk but we’ll see whether he features tomorrow and if he does will all be praying that nothing happens.