Manchester United’s Champions League clash with Valencia was a match Jose Mourinho could have done without.
With Liverpool on the horizon, the United boss picked a weakened side on Wednesday and suffered a 2-1 defeat as a consequence. But he could have used the dead rubber for the club’s benefit, rather than giving the usual suspects yet another chance to impress.
James Garner and Mason Greenwood were unused substitutes against Valencia, while Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong made do with Youth League football yet again.
But it was the latter clash, overseen by Nicky Butt, that showed what Mourinho should have done.
With United’s next generation qualifying for the next stage with ease, U19 coach Butt threw on 14-year-old Shola Shoretire for his debut at that level.
While we are not suggesting United should be giving 14-year-old’s their senior debut, they should be taking more risks.
Garner and Greenwood would have done no worse than some of United’s under-performing stars. Similarly Chong and Gomes are the sparks this side desperately need.
Butt took a chance with Shoretire, proving that if you are good enough you are old enough.
That is not a mantra Mourinho champions. Instead he persists with mediocrity.
Butt showed on Wednesday that all matches are useful if you take risks. It is a lesson Mourinho should learn if he wants to remain at United for the long term.