Manchester United will be incredibly busy in April, playing a total of nine matches in all competitions, starting with Saturday’s visit of West Bromwich Albion.

The Red Devils won the EFL Cup back in February, they face Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals and are four points behind fourth-place Liverpool in the Premier League, but crucially with two games in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side.

World-record signing Paul Pogba was already ruled out of this weekend’s game, however, the most recent international break has had some devastating consequences for Jose Mourinho.

Chris Smalling withdrew from the England squad with a leg injury after playing in the 1-0 friendly loss to Germany, while fellow defender Phil Jones picked up a toe problem in training that has caused serious doubt over whether he’ll play again this campaign.

Given that he is also without Ander Herrera and star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic because of suspensions, an angry Mourinho launched an attack on the scheduling of mid-season international friendlies, criticising the timing of them.

“I am totally against the friendly matches,” the 54-year-old told Sky Sports, via Goal. “I think friendly matches for the national team only make sense before the final phases.

“A couple of weeks before the Euros or a couple of weeks before the World Cup makes sense. But mid-season friendly matches mixed with qualification matches, I don’t think that makes sense.”

He continued: “On top of that, the matches are not really big matches so I am not a big fan. But I think one day I will be there (in an international management job) so I cannot be very critical.

“I don’t know how but both central defenders (Smalling and Jones) got injured in the English camp even before the match. The match was on the Sunday against Lithuania and they were injured in the training session.”

Thirteen Man Utd players were away on international duty, compared to just one for West Brom, and Mourinho feels this gives Tony Pulis’ men a clear advantage heading into the game.

“I watched Antonio Valencia’s match in Ecuador, Marcos Rojo (and Sergio Romero) in Bolivia, but they don’t arrive until Thursday afternoon,” the Portuguese coach stated.

“If you compare our situation with our opponents – West Bromwich Albion only had one player on international duty. They had time to work, time to rest and prepare. It is going to be hard.”

You may think Mourinho is just in a bad mood, but he has a point. While World Cup qualifiers must be played, friendlies surely could be abandoned during busy parts of the season to lower the workload and travel of players.


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