Jose Mourinho explains why he started Chris Smalling and Juan Mata against Ajax

by Tanveer Arayan


Jose Mourinho has explained why he started Chris Smalling and Juan Mata for Manchester United against Ajax in the Europa League final.

It was a massive game for the players and the Portuguese boss decided to play Smalling to replace the suspended Eric Bailly and Mata who came in for Jesse Lingard in the only two changes made to the squad that started the second leg of United’s semi-final win over Celta Vigo.

Speaking prior to the game, Mourinho opened up about the changes to his squad.

“This is the last game of our season and we are going to give everything,” he said.

“With Mata starting we want to use his brain and then maybe use some other speed and enthusiasm later on.

“I was pushed to choose Chris because he came back from injury 1 week earlier than Jones and had longer to recover.”

Having already confirmed that Sergio Romero would continue to start between the sticks, Mourinho also expectedly selected Marcus Rashford to play up front.

Supporters were aware Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind, Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera would start too but the main question was who would partner Blind in the centre of defence, and with Phil Jones outperforming Smalling in recent weeks it was surprising to see the Englishman start.

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