Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is renowned for his trademark loquacious and metaphorical persona and the Portuguese tactician made his multilingual talent apparent on Tuesday when addressing issues regarding his injury-plagued team.
United have been denied several of their first-team stars in recent weeks due to injury but Mourinho has to devise means to juggle his squad to cope with the debacle in order to keep his players fresh and in aplomb shape ahead of May 24th Europa League final against Ajax at the Friends Arena in Sweden.
With a top-four place now out of reach, Mourinho is naturally prioritising next Wednesday’s Stockholm clash with Ajax with the aid of ‘a la carte’ technique but has still vowed to pick teams “with the minimum of conditions to fight for a result” at Southampton on Wednesday and at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
A la carte is a French word used to describe hotel or restaurant meal consisting of several differently priced dishes which are cooked usually when ordered from a menu.
In other words, the former Chelsea boss has been picking from his shredded squad based on levels of fitness and has been forced to hand mandatory 24hours leave to some who needed rest.
“I have to build some teams with the minimum of conditions to fight for a result,” Mourinho said.
“We lost against Arsenal 2-0 and we fought for the result. We lost 2-1 [at Spurs] and we fought for the result.
“We always want to fight for the result. I don’t want to field a team where people think we aren’t fighting for the result – we are fighting for the result.
“What I want from the players is a positive attitude, good team spirit and the understanding that some guys have to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.
“So I’m going to rotate some people. Blind will not play against Southampton but Fellaini will, because he has not played the last three matches. These are examples of trying not to accumulate [matches] but people have to play because we don’t have other players. I cannot put four or five other kids all together in the fire; I cannot do that to the kids.
“I don’t think Paul has the conditions to play; we will let him be completely free to come back when he thinks he is ready to be back.
“[Martial] didn’t play against Celta because the options were different but he is fine and he is one of the guys that it is very important for him to play 90 minutes. Smalling, Jones, Mata – it is very important for them to play 90 minutes.
“I am giving one-day holiday ‘a la carte’, if you understand – Blind one day off, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan one day off, [Ander] Herrera one day off.
“But the guys who played 90 minutes [v Spurs], I cannot give them one day off if I want them to play versus Southampton because they need two recovery days.
“I’m trying to get people to be the best they can be. This is a period in one week where I have to give one day off, give [Antonio] Valencia a day off. And, against Crystal Palace, two or three more [players], and against Southampton, two or three more. And that’s to try to arrive in the final in the best possible condition.”
Meanwhile, Paul Pogba won’t be involved at St. Mary’s as he is in France for his father’s funeral, while Daley Blind will be rested after playing the full 90 minutes in United’s last two games, against Celta Vigo and Tottenham Hotspur.
But Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial are all likely to start against the Saints, and Mourinho added Sergio Romero, his confirmed goalkeeper for the European final, will play in one of the two remaining league games.