Jose Mourinho provides team news ahead of Manchester derby

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has insisted that he will rotate his squad once again ahead of the Manchester derby on Thursday night.

The 54-year-old, after reaching the Europa League semi-final last week, rested the likes of Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia against Burnley on Sunday.

A win at the Ethiad would see Man United – just one point behind Pep Guardiola’s men – climb to fourth in the Premier League table with five games to go.

But Mourinho, who has previously noted he would prioritise the Europa League from here henceforth, made it clear that he would rest some players on Thursday.

“If we beat Celta we go to the final,” he said. “And yes, it’s important for us to play Champions League but this club wants trophies.

“We cannot give the club the Premier League, we have a 25 per cent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it.

“So I will rotate players again, I will give rest to some players again and let’s see what we can do.

“And at least in terms of expectation, in terms of emotion for the game it’s better, a derby with one point difference, than with four. So it was a good victory for us.”

One could actually argue that this game holds more importance for Manchester City. Guardiola, following last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal, is now staring down the barrel of a season devoid of silverware for the first time in his managerial career. The only trophy up for grabs, it seems, is the fourth place trophy.

Surrendering his side’s grip on fourth, therefore, is unthinkable for Guardiola. How can you justify being in fifth place and knocked out of every other competition when, just eight months ago, pundits and supporters were murmuring about a quadruple.

This is the perfect scenario for Mourinho: entering an enemy’s cauldron, aware of their mental fragility and be-all-end-all mentality, he will have a plan to send his arch-rival further into the mire.

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