Football

Mourinho: Don't kill me for playing kids

United boss to field weakened team against Palace in protest against lack of support from authorities

Jose Mourinho has insisted that Manchester United's final fixture of the Premier League season should have been moved to tomorrow to give them more time to prepare for next week's Europa League final against Ajax.

He has revealed plans to field a weakened team on Sunday when they host Crystal Palace, three days before the showpiece that could earn him a second major trophy with United and secure qualification for the Champions League.

In the 0-0 draw at Southampton yesterday morning (Singapore time), he again selected an understrength XI, omitting Marcus Rashford, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and David de Gea.

United will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of their match with Palace, who are also safe from relegation with three teams already down and, because of its insignificance, Mourinho is disappointed English football authorities have not intervened.

"In any country in the world, the match would be Saturday, because Sunday we are sixth, doesn't matter what, and Crystal Palace are safe," said the 54-year-old Portuguese.

"So after the moment Palace beat Hull and Hull are relegated, and Swansea are safe, in that moment, the match has to be Saturday... In any country in the world, it would be Saturday. (But) it's going to be Sunday.

"It's frustrating for me. I hope you don't kill me when you see my team. I don't lose time. When I know the battle is lost I don't fight.

"The next match Joel (Pereira, United's 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper) is playing his first match in the Premier League.

"I'm here (in English football) already seven years, I never saw any detail of trying to care about the English teams involved in European competitions. I never saw. It's just a lost battle, we have to accept the way it is.

"I hope the fans on Sunday support the team, they forgive some naivety, they forgive some lack of confidence and I hope Big Sam (Allardyce, Palace's manager) shows he's a good friend and he goes slow. Tells (Wilfried) Zaha to go slow, leaves (Christian) Benteke at home. I hope he goes soft on us."

Mourinho also reiterated his optimism de Gea would remain at the club, having earlier confirmed he would not play again this season, and amid increasing speculation linking the Spaniard with a transfer to Real Madrid.

"I don't go with (Sergio Romero can replace de Gea) 'if he leaves' because I hope he doesn't," he said.

"We need two top goalkeepers and a top young goalkeeper and this is what we have."

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini is doubtful for United's last league game and next week's Europa League final after sustaining an injury yesterday.

The Belgium international was substituted in the 75th minute and had a brief chat with Mourinho before walking straight down the tunnel with what appeared to be a muscle problem.

"Fellaini, on top of his experience, he says it's not a tear," Mourinho told the club's website.

"He says it was a minimal thing but minimal can be a big thing. Let's wait for tomorrow, but he needed to play."

Mourinho said that he had to give the 29-year-old playing time to prepare him for the remaining two games as Fellaini missed United's last three league games after picking up a red card in the Manchester Derby in April.

"Players need not only to rest but also to play. He wasn't playing a lot so he had to play today. I don't blame myself or our decision." - WIRE SERVICES

Jose MourinhoManchester UnitedEUROPA LEAGUE