Football

Mourinho: The fixture calendar is nonsense

Jose Mourinho lashed out over Manchester United's mounting fixture list after seeing them safely through to the FA Cup fifth round.

United stepped up after a lacklustre start to beat Championship side Wigan Athletic 4-0 at Old Trafford yesterday morning (Singapore time) with goals from Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the returning Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Mourinho was pleased with the result but fears there could be a price to pay as United's schedule gets even more congested.

United are already through to the EFL Cup final, which means a Premier League derby clash against Manchester City needs to be rearranged, while their Europa League campaign also resumes next month.

Mourinho said: "We are going to have a very difficult season compared with other clubs. Liverpool will play 16 matches until the end of the season, Chelsea will play 16 plus some in the FA Cup and we are in this really crazy situation.

"Southampton will have 15 days without football before the final. In those 15 days we are going to play two matches against Saint-Etienne and the next round of the FA Cup, so the calendar in the best country of world football is nonsense."

United offered little until the 44th minute, when Fellaini headed home a cross from Schweinsteiger, who was making his first start for more than a year. Until then Wigan had more than held their own and they remained competitive until Smalling headed the second just before the hour.

Mourinho said: "The first half was not good. I think we did nothing to be winning but that goal gave us a different second half and gave me a chance at half-time to speak with the players and try to make them feel the first half was not good enough."

Mkhitaryan agreed, telling the BBC: "It was not our best game in the first half, but in the second we were very good.

FINDING SPACE

"In the first we couldn't find free space, but in the second we had more of that. The most important thing is we won 4-0 and go through."

United's final two goals came in the latter stages and Wigan boss Warren Joyce felt that put an unfair slant on the scoreline.

The former United coach said: "For 60 minutes I was really pleased and the last 20 you can forget about because we were going gung-ho, chasing the game, and 4-0 probably flatters Manchester United."

Joyce might have felt that the final score flattered the home team, but United legend Peter Schmeichel believes that under Mourinho, the Red Devils are no longer flattering to deceive.

He told Sky Sports: "I think it's been fantastic, I expected it to be another bumpy year. Jose has inherited a squad of players and he will have had to assess every one of them.

"He is doing that quicker than I thought he would have done. Plus, the four additions in the summer (Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Mkhitaryan), they have all been really good.

"We are getting back to a Manchester United way of playing, which I didn't expect so quickly, so I am optimistic for the future." - WIRE SERVICES

Manchester UnitedWIGAN ATHLETICFA Cup