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Friday 21 July 2017

Jose wary of trouble final date will cause

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insists his side will face a fixture backlog if they qualify for the League Cup final by overcoming Hull tonight
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insists his side will face a fixture backlog if they qualify for the League Cup final by overcoming Hull tonight

Jose Mourinho is wary of potential fixture congestion should Manchester United reach the League Cup final.

United seem on course for the Wembley showpiece as they head into the second leg of their semi-final at Hull tonight with a 2-0 lead.

Reaching the February 26 final, however, would mean the Premier League game against neighbours and top-four rivals Manchester City, scheduled for the same day, having to be rearranged.

With both Manchester clubs still in the FA Cup and also due to resume European campaigns in the spring, it is unclear when that fixture could be played.

Mourinho said: "I know that it's going to be hard if we go step by step. If, if, if - we go to the field of the ifs - but if we beat Hull and we play the final then we don't play against Manchester City.

"The match against Manchester City I'm sure they will choose an amazing moment, difficult for us, to make us play against them.

"Then we have Europa League, a non-stop competition. In the Europa League you have to play last 32 and last 16. If we are going to progress it's going to be really difficult.

"Let's see what happens in this moment. In this moment we have a 25 per cent chance to win the League Cup, which is the first competition to be decided."

Hull appear to have been given a new lease of life by the appointment of Marco Silva as manager a week before the sides met in the first leg at Old Trafford.

The Tigers remain deep in relegation trouble but Mourinho believes his fellow Portuguese will give them a fighting chance of beating the drop.

He said: "I knew it, (it is) no surprise for me. It was not just the immediate impact of any team that changes the manager.

"For the next couple of weeks there is always an impact, a new feeling, but then things normally go back to the previous situation.

"I knew that Marco is such a good coach that the team would really improve. It is still a difficult job in hand, still a big fight with six or seven teams for relegation, but he is a very good coach."

Mourinho has strong history with the League Cup having won it three times across his two spells in charge at Chelsea, but he does not believe success necessarily has wider significance.

"I don't see things in this perspective," he said. "It's nice to win competitions but I don't think it's crucial to doing well after that."

Mourinho was speaking at a press conference to preview the match sporting a new, closely-cropped, hairstyle. "The haircut is a privilege," he joked.

Mourinho did not wish to comment on recent remarks from Alex Ferguson that he "has done a great job" but he did say the former United boss had provided valuable support from a respectful distance. He said: "He doesn't want to be around and come too many times. I told him that this is his house always and forever, but just a couple of times. He travelled with us in the bus and the train, he visited us once, but we know that this is his club, his life, and that he is supporting us."

United have close to a full squad available for tonight's game. Mourinho has no fresh injury concerns and defender Marcos Rojo is also available again after missing the draw at Stoke at the weekend through illness.

Defender Eric Bailly will also rejoin the United squad in the coming days following Ivory Coast's elimination from the African Nations Cup.

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