MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is ready to drop established players for the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after the Old Trafford club’s weekend defeat by Premier League bottom side West Bromwich Albion.
United suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to West Brom on Sunday, handing the title to Manchester City, and Mourinho said his team were the “masters of complication”. They next visit Bournemouth on Wednesday before facing Spurs at Wembley.
Asked if he would rotate his players for the midweek league game on the south coast, Mourinho indicated that some of those who played against West Brom would feature again at Bournemouth because they had lost their place for the semi-final.
“Rotating is not the right word,” he was quoted as saying by The Independent. “If I play a player against Bournemouth and the player is phenomenal, he plays the semi-final.
“So is not rotating, because rotating looks like a player plays against Bournemouth to give a rest to somebody that is going to play against Spurs in the semi-final.
“So the word is not rotation, it is an opportunity for people, for some people, to play and to try to get a place in the team for Spurs. Some of the guys that played (on Sunday) don’t have a place in that team.”
Asked to clarify if he meant those who performed badly against West Brom would not play against Tottenham, Mourinho said: “Yeah. What is the criteria for a manager to choose a team? I only know one criteria: (it) is the way you play.
“Or do you want me to go for the price they cost, or their salary, or their beautiful face? The only way is to go with performance.”
Ander Herrera was substituted at halftime against West Brom, while fellow midfielder Paul Pogba came off in the 58th minute, but Mourinho said that a yellow card had also been a factor in the Frenchman’s replacement.
“It was not just him and he had a yellow card, so he was in a more difficult position than others,” Mourinho said.
“And playing with only two midfield players, you cannot play with one player in risk of not being able to make a foul.
“You can do it if your team is not losing the ball, but our team was losing the ball so easy with the complication, everything was complicated, so we were losing lots of balls.
“Paul was out because of the yellow card, because in terms of the way he played, he was not worse than some others that were on the pitch for 90 minutes.”
Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Greg Stutchbury