Mourinho rules midfield duo out of Manchester United’s Christmas clashes
Jose Mourinho has ruled Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick out of Manchester United’s frantic Christmas fixture schedule.
Saturday’s trip to Leicester kicks off a run of four Premier League matches in 10 days – a crucial time as the Red Devils look to claw back Manchester City’s eye-watering 11-point lead.
Antonio Valencia is out of the Foxes clash and United will have to do without Eric Bailly during Christmas and beyond with an ankle injury, while midfielders Carrick and Fellaini also look set to miss the festive period.
Carrick has not played since undergoing a procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm following September’s Carabao Cup win against Burton, while Fellaini – in the midst of prolonged contract negotiations – has not played since November 25.
“(Fellaini) is not available,” Mourinho said.
“Michael Carrick, (also) no.”
Asked whether he had a timescale on either midfielder, he said: “No, but not (available) for the Christmas period. Valencia is out, as you know. Eric Bailly is having surgery right now, or just finished or is still there. Who else? Nobody else, everything is OK.”
Things were certainly not fine though on Wednesday night, and into the early hours of Thursday.
The 5am arrival back from their Carabao Cup defeat to Bristol City only compounded matters after United’s much-changed side flopped in a shock 2-1 loss.
Mourinho said some of his players did not “even want to come to the office” at Ashton Gate, although the Portuguese has not written off any of his under-performing players on the back of that loss.
“No, I don’t make decisions based on one game, on one feeling of one night,” he said.
“Not at all. You know, first of all (the media) always like to speak about the loser. Probably you should speak more about the winner.
“What I told after the match: they were lucky but they fought a lot to try to be lucky, and it is one of the beautiful things that can happen in football when in cup matches a team from a lower division kills the giant.
“Football has now changed so much that the lower division is highly professional, so I think that can happen even more.
“I could be critical with my players, yes, I could – but they did enough to win, they lost when they were trying to win.
“They lost when they were the only team people believed could win that match. So we move on and we move on quickly because tomorrow we have another match.”
Mourinho was not giving much away ahead of the trip to Leicester, where United need to get back to winning ways to keep their fading title hopes alive.
“I don’t know (what the expectations are),” he said.
“You say, you are the ones, not me.
“The expectation is to go to every match and to try to win, which is what we do.
“The matches we lost, we fought until the last second. The matches we lost if I’m not wrong we lost 2-1, 2-1, 1-0, so we really manage to fight in every match to try for the best result.
“And there is nothing more than that we can do, we can promise. We go to every match and do our best.”
Meanwhile, United have handed Aidan Barlow his first professional contract.
The 17-year-old attacking midfielder has impressed at both UEFA Youth League and under-18 levels this season.
Barlow follows in the footsteps of midfielder Angel Gomes and goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara in signing new deals at United in recent weeks.
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