Tuesday 25 October 2016

Mourinho focus is just on getting his players back to England in one piece as trip turns into China crisis

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Manchester United's pre-season trip to China is ending chaotically, with organisation as bad as the weather meaning Jose Mourinho just wants to get his players home in one piece.

Following a friendly against Borussia Dortmund during a short and relatively straightforward stay in Shanghai, United arrived in Beijing to take on Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in what looked set to be a mouth-watering friendly.

Instead, preparations for today's match have been beset with problems from United's end, given the flight issues en route to the Chinese capital and organisational problems upon a rrival.

A week of heavy rain has even raised concerns today's friendly could be called off, although a source working for the International Champions Cup yesterday insisted the playing surface was "fine".

More rain is forecast overnight, though, and even if it does go ahead player safety remains a concern, with the pitch a worry for Guardiola and United counterpart Mourinho.

"I think Beijing is also unlucky because the pitch is very bad," the Portuguese said.

"The pitch and the conditions of my players are more important than results in pre-season.

"It's not a problem for me to lose matches in pre-season.

"It's a problem for me, bad conditions for my players to train and bad conditions for my players to play.

"So if you ask me my objective for the match tomorrow I only have one: take the players home safe without any kind of injury.

"We cannot just run away and disappear and not play, so we have to play and try to be lucky.

"Normally when you say lucky you say lucky because you want a good result.

"The result I want tomorrow is to go home without injuries and that is the luck I want."

Mourinho's frustration at the unfolding situation was visible as he stood pitchside surrounded by hundreds of journalists, a number of whom were wearing United shirts and looking for autographs.

United, like City, trained at the Olympic Sports Centre to preserve the nearby Bird's Nest pitch, but the increased numbers of accredited media saw him forced outside as the tiny, sweltering press conference room was deemed unsuitable.

It was the latest disruption of a trip impacted by bad weather en route to Beijing on Saturday evening, forcing one of United's two planes to take an unscheduled stop in Tianjin.

Mourinho said: "The ones in the first plane were lucky because the plane was great and we land safely and we were in the hotel in good conditions to have dinner.

"The second group was unlucky. The plane was not good, they had a storm and had to land in Tianjin.

"They had to be in Tianjin for about a couple of hours, they sought to come by bus then they got the plane and they arrived in the hotel to have dinner at one o'clock in the morning."

These, Mourinho says, are "no conditions to play a good game of football" and believes it now becomes a "double friendly" in order to keep everyone fit and well.

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