Cape Town - Manchester
United boss Jose Mourinho insists he has never experienced a fixture
pile-up like the one that is wearing on his players in the run-in to a
The Red Devils are counting the cost of going all the way in the EFL Cup, while they have also reached the Europa League final, where Ajax lie in wait next week.
Mourinho's side played nine games in April and the grueling congestion finally took its toll on the squad, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Tim Fosu-Mensah having all picking up season-ending injuries recently.
The Portuguese coach has chosen to abandon the club's top-four bid in favour of Europa League glory - the only trophy to have eluded United - as their ticket to the Champions League, but resting tired bodies is becoming increasingly difficult with three matches left in the campaign.
"The accumulation of the games, I never had that," Mourinho said. "You know that in all of my career I was never (knocked) out of European competitions in the group phases and in the last 16 I was out only once.
"So I reached the semi-finals 10 times, I go always until the end of the competitions. In the League Cup I normally go far. In the domestic competitions cups, I won in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal so I normally have a lot of matches.
"But like this I never have, I never have. This situation of you play a final and the game that you should play that day is going to be postponed until the last week, for the last week! This is crazy.
"And I repeat the same – thank you Michael Oliver because we were out in the FA Cup, because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster. I don't know when we would be playing that game.
"I never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries, not small, not the injuries that you say 'okay, hamstring, two weeks'. No. It's surgery, boom, boom. It's surgery - one knee, another knee. Another foot. Just big surgeries.
"So fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It's very difficult, really very difficult. But we are there and we go to the final.
"A final is a final and we have to go to the final with everything like Ajax does because they have finished the season and they do not have any more football to play until the final."