Jose Mourinho offered a brutal riposte to Frank de Boer’s criticism over his handling of Marcus Rashford, with the Manchester United boss tearing into the “worst manager in Premier League history”.
Champions League last 16 second leg
Man United (0) v Sevilla (0)
Tonight: Old Trafford, 7.45pm
Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
TV: TV3, BT Sport
Bet: Man United 4/7, Sevilla 5/1, Draw 11/4
Nobody at yesterday’s press conference previewing the Champions League last-16 clash with Sevilla could have foreseen the Portuguese publicly eviscerating the former Crystal Palace manager.
De Boer was sacked by the Eagles in September after losing his first four Premier League matches without so much as mustering a goal, let alone a point.
That record was brought up as Mourinho went after the Dutchman, having been irked by the former Palace manager saying it was a “pity” for Rashford to be playing under the United boss given his preference for short-term success over player development.
“I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League,” said the United boss.
“Frank de Boer — seven matches, seven defeats, zero goals — where he was saying that it was not good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me because the most important thing for me is to win.
Mourinho’s stinging comment came in response to a question that did not even reference De Boer, only whether Rashford would retain his starting berth after a match-winning brace in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Liverpool.
The Portuguese did not actually address that question ahead of the return leg against Sevilla, nor did he give a straight answer on Paul Pogba’s availability tonight.
The midfielder — who surprisingly started the goalless first leg on the bench in Spain — was injured on the eve of the Liverpool clash and was conspicuous by his absence from the section of training open to the media yesterday.
Mourinho offered no insight into Pogba’s injury, just that the club-record signing could be involved against Sevilla.
Mourinho confirmed that Anthony Martial is back in contention after an injury of his own, and that Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, and Phil Jones remain absent.
The latter will also be unavailable for England over the international break, with the Portuguese saying Gareth Southgate should only select Jones if he “wants to take him for the medical department because he’s injured”.
Mourinho was in spiky mood ahead of the visit of Sevilla, repeatedly making self-deprecating remarks about his Champions League triumphs as Porto and Inter Milan manager.
Neither of those sides were favourites for the crown and the Portuguese believes United are outsiders this time.
Asked if he feels he has the conditions to bring a fourth European Cup to Old Trafford, Mourinho said: “Not yet, but when a team reaches the last eight anything is possible.
“Now I have only one name in my mind: it is Sevilla. I know that it is very difficult to go through.
Meanwhile, United captain Michael Carrick has announced his intention to retire at the end of the season and join the coaching staff.
The 36-year-old is the longest-serving player at Old Trafford, having joined from Tottenham in 2006 and gone on to win the Champions League and five Premier League titles, among many other trophies.
The 36-year-old was handed the captain’s armband last summer after the exit of Wayne Rooney but has only made three starts in all competitions this season.
“There comes a time when as much as you like it or don’t like it, your body tells you it’s time to stop playing football,” the 36-year-old said yesterday.
“So that’s pretty much where I’m at, which is fine. It’s something you’ve got to accept so that’s where I am at.
“It’s kind of been sorted out (for a coaching role). We’re still talking about it, to be honest, so there’s nothing to totally confirm as yet. But, yeah, it’s looking likely.”
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