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Press Conference: Mourinho pushing for a win; Zlatan starts, Mkhitaryan and Shaw out of contention

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho sat down with the media ahead of the UEFA Europa League clash with Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. United have turned it around so far, coming from a three-match losing streak, and are now on the cusp of a three-match winning streak having beaten both Northampton Town and Leicester City in their last two matches. United are yet to earn a point in the Europa League this season having been beaten by Feyenoord a fortnight ago, albeit to an offside goal. United will be looking to get points on the board, earning a victory which will also keep the pressure on Stoke City ahead of their visit to Old Trafford on Sunday. Here are the main points from the press conference.

Daley Blind on Zorya Luhansk (speaking to MUTV):

“Zorya are second in the [Ukrainian] league so we know they won’t be easy opponents and we will not underestimate them. We must show the same attitude we had against Leicester and get the three points.”

Jose Mourinho on getting a first win in the Europa League this season:

“It’s very important. I think we have to win. If we don’t win, we have four matches [left in the group] and I would say we have to win all the last four matches, which is difficult. Tomorrow we need to win.”

Mourinho on Luke Shaw being sidelined through illness:

“He’s ill – temperature, fever, bad throat. He arrived this morning and immediately the doctor sent him home because one player like this in the middle of the other ones can affect others so he went home.”

Mourinho on Wayne Rooney:

“I was completely convinced of playing him tomorrow. I’m not sure if I do that because with the situation that you create to him I think he really can’t afford to have a performance that is not really good and I am here to protect him and have to analyse the best thing for him. If he is not totally ready for it, I will discuss that with the medical staff.”

Mourinho on Anthony Martial’s contusion which kept him out of the Leicester City match:

“He’s now recovered from the contusion – not the concussion. He has recovered and he is ready for tomorrow.”

Mourinho on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was rumoured to be in Milan earlier this week:

“Zlatan starts.”

Mourinho when asked more questions about Anthony Martial:

“No more questions about Rashford? Why Rashford is playing so well? No more questions so now you turn to Martial?” 

Mourinho on Sam Allardyce, the sting and his reputation:

“I like Sam. I feel sorry for him. I know it was his dream job. I like him and respect him. What happened is not going to interfere in any way with my relationship with him. It is between him and FA.”

Jesse Lingard, who replaced Daley Blind on consistency:

“The main thing for me this season is consistency.”

Lingard on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his influence at Manchester United:

“He’s been a leader for the team, especially when the captain’s not playing. He’s stepped up and he’s really led the team. Obviously the young lads look up to him and most of the older ones do as well. When you see the things he’s done in his career [you can’t help but be impressed]. He helps the young lads a lot. Especially me and Marcus [Rashford]. He’s always there for us and always there for the team.”

Manchester United are in a much better predicament than they were a week or so back. Coming out of a three-match losing streak, heading into what could be a three-match winning streak, should they beat Zorya Luhansk, of course. United beat Leicester City with a great first half performance on Saturday, embarrassing the champions to the point where the manager tried to save face and make his team more defensive, at the expense of both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, which stopped United from taking much more advantage, not they would have done in the second half, as they were not the same team which ended the first half, but they were 4-0 up at the time, so it does not suggest they faltered in their performance in the second half. United seem to have got the attention of their rivals and will be looking at Zorya in order to get the attention of both Feyenoord and Fenerbahçe in their group by getting their first points on the table against the Ukrainian side.

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Luke Shaw (illness) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not play for United on Thursday with the Armenian returning to training on Wednesday, so will probably be in with a chance to face Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday, before the international break commences once again. United may field a stronger side against Zorya with the confirmation that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start against the Ukrainian side, which will be something they may be dreading. Ibrahimovic has scored five goals so far this season, with Marcus Rashford scoring four. Anthony Martial is back from his contusion, which saw him miss both the Northampton Town and Leicester City matches. United will be setting out to take the spoils away from the Ukrainian side, whom they have never faced before. United have played six times in Europa (the UEFA Champions League) against Ukrainian sides, winning four matches and drawing twice, never yet defeated, which could be something that continues at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

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