Manchester United’s Carrington training complex will look more like an accident and emergency ward than a Premier League football club’s training headquarters this morning. Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw, both limping off during the latest draw with Swansea, added to the ever growing list of casualties for Jose Mourinho to deal with.
Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Pogba, Fosu-Mensah, Zlatan and now Bailly and Shaw, all copied up on the treatment table awaiting various band aids and plasters. United played nine matches in April. A season which is now going into over 60 game territory. Players are being asked to play Thursday and Sunday every week now until the end of the season, patched up and sent out onto the pitch looking like the Children in Need bear.
A midweek encounter with Spanish mid table team, Celta Vigo, who incidentally rested their whole team for this week’s Europa League Semi Final, followed by United’s trip to the Emirates on Sunday to face Arsenal. Mourinho will no doubt be hoping for some good news from the physio.
Maybe it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom though. A chance to bring through some youth players who will have been knocking on the first team door this season. Axel Tuanzebe could be in line to start his first Premier League game under Jose, but with how the boss made his substitutions against Swansea, it looks a lot like it will be one of Darmian or Carrick who sit alongside Daley Blind, in the heart of United’s patched up defence.
But fear not! Remember when United beat Arsenal in an FA Cup Quarter Final playing with seven defenders? Yes seven! 12th March 2011, Old Trafford. United played with a team as follows:
Van Der Sar
Brown, Vidic, Smalling, Evra
Rafael, Gibson, O’Shea, Fabio
( defenders in bold )
A 2-0 followed, resulting in a place in the Semi Final. Goals either side of half time from Fabio and Wayne Rooney, enough to get the win over an Arsenal team who were at the time, six years without silverware.
Exciting times ahead at Manchester United. Europa League Semi Final fixtures sandwiching a league encounter with the Gunners. Until the two draws with City and Swansea, Champions League qualification was in United’s hands domestically. That ship looks to have set off down the Manchester shipping canal. What players Mourinho will have to use, only he knows at this point. He joked last week that he had been in training so he could play if needed. What size boots are you Jose?