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Thursday 25 May 2017

Liverpool showdown will not distract cup focus

Mourinho to recall big names for semi ahead of Sunday's crunch league tie

Jose Mourinho will not rest his top players tonight against Hull in the League Cup semi-final, first leg ahead of Sunday’s crunch Premier League tie on Sunday against Liverpool. Pic: PA
Jose Mourinho will not rest his top players tonight against Hull in the League Cup semi-final, first leg ahead of Sunday’s crunch Premier League tie on Sunday against Liverpool. Pic: PA

Jose Mourinho insists Manchester United will not be distracted by this weekend's clash with Liverpool and their top-four quest as he bids to maintain his impressive League Cup record by reaching Wembley.

United entertain Hull in the first leg of the semi-final tonight and Mourinho has vowed to recall the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba for a competition which he has always placed importance on.

It was the first trophy he won in England as Chelsea boss back in 2005 and, with subsequent triumphs in 2007 and 2015 in his two spells with the Blues, Mourinho has remarkably never lost a game inside 90 minutes in the competition - exiting on penalties to Charlton in the 2005-06 season, in extra-time to Sunderland in December 2013 and again on penalties, this time to Stoke, last season.

Silverware

He will take charge of his 28th League Cup match at Old Trafford and so - while returning United to the Champions League remains a priority ahead of Sunday's clash with Jurgen Klopp's Reds - the chance for more silverware is one Mourinho is keen to strive for.

"We play against Liverpool (on Sunday), it's a big match for us but we want to be in the final," he said.

Manchester United’s Anthony Martial (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s second goal with (l-r) Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney during the FA Cup 3rd round match at Old Trafford last Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s second goal with (l-r) Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney during the FA Cup 3rd round match at Old Trafford last Saturday. Photo: Reuters

"So we are going to face this Hull match with everything we have, with all the power we have. We know that it's two legs but the second leg is away, so if you can do something in the first leg that gives you an advantage, we are going to try and do that.

"I think for big clubs a competition is a competition. I was never good at choosing competitions. At some of my clubs you arrive at April and you have a busy fixture list but you are in competitions to try to win, to try to do things.

"I won the League Cup twice in Cardiff but when it moved to Wembley I think the meaning is even better so why not try (and win it)?

"It's a two-legged competition, if we don't play well in one leg you have another match to try so we are going to try."

Hull have their own priorities in the Premier League having slipped to the foot of the table, a position which cost Mike Phelan his job and saw the Tigers appoint Mourinho's fellow Portuguese Marco Silva last week.

Mourinho, 53, spoke to his 39-year-old counterpart on Friday and did not sugar-coat the size of the task facing him, though he believes Silva is well prepared for such a mission based on his managerial background at Estoril, Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos.

"It's not easy to come to the Premier League when you are a foreign coach," Mourinho stated.

"He knows that he's going to face a difficult challenge, they are bottom of the league with 13 points, but it's a big opportunity for him.

"He's known in Portugal as one of the good young coaches. His formation was good because he started from below. He was not given a top job immediately. He did well in a small club in Portugal, then he went to Sporting, he won the cup and finished third in the league. He went to Greece and is a champion with Olympiacos.

"He's very stable, in spite of (being) a young guy he's experienced because he's stable, very mature.

"I would love him to do well but we all know that in the Premier League when you're bottom of the league it's hard to jump."

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