Recent news has revealed that Wayne Rooney will miss Manchester United’s trip to Stamford Bridge with a muscular injury. This news came shortly after many realized he failed to travel with the squad to London. With twenty players checking into the Lowry hotel in London, a place most notable for Riyad Mahrez’s appearance there amid links to Chelsea, some of the absentees were quite notable.
According to photographers whose photos were published by the Manchester Evening News on Saturday, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Memphis also failed to make the squad. Assuming this information means Matteo Darmian made it in (after a good performance against Fenerbahce), Fosu-Mensah’s inclusion would be redundant, so most won’t be concerned by this. Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be a great option off the bench, though it would be cruel to start him in a match of this nature, but if he isn’t traveling, hopefully, it’s a fitness issue (which is a strange idea).
Most upsetting, though, is Memphis’ omission. When he joined United, I envisioned him as the perfect super-sub until ready to make his mark in the Starting XI. Memphis has all the attributes to be a successful substitute- pace, power, incredible shooting range and the ability to turn defenders inside out. Memphis showed it at the World Cup, in particular, changing games off the bench and even starting a few games when called upon. That way, he made a consistent impact despite his inconsistent qualities, playing the matches that suited him and keeping his fitness up.
However, regardless of the omission of Fosu-Mensah, Mkhitaryan, and Memphis, United’s squad has massive options in the Starting XI and off the bench. Even without a full-strength squad, United will likely have at least three of Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young on the bench, all of the aforementioned players in impressive form, all of the aforementioned players able to change a game off the bench.
Speaking about his return to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho said he wasn’t emotional at all, and trying to focus on the match. The cold nature of the Portuguese manager was not poorly-spirited but instead great for United fans to see as he shut down the media claims and kept the focus on the match in a way that the past few United managers couldn’t do in their failing days.
“To say I care is not true. Because to be honest when I go to a football match I don’t focus on that. I am more focused on the game, I try to prepare myself for the match, so I cannot say that I care.
“What can I expect? I don’t know. They can think about me and remember our great relationship and have a good reaction, or they can look at me and think for those 90 minutes that I am the United manager and he is playing against us, so he is not somebody that we like at the moment.
“I did my job and they gave me their love, and they gave me their support. That is the most important thing. Now, I go there as Man United manager and if they decide to have a different approach then I will always respect that.
“For me, what you are not going to have, ever, is a bad word about any one of my previous clubs, any of the fans who have supported me, so I always keep a very good feeling and it doesn’t matter what is going to happen.
“But it is my nature, it is my nature, it is my club and obviously I go there to try to do my job.”
Mourinho did imply that it isn’t completely normal to visit your former club as manager, though. He said he will control himself in negative and positive situations in the same manner as he will against other clubs despite the unique occasion, not because Chelsea doesn’t matter to him. Mourinho wants to keep the balance between respect for his former role and the appreciation for his current role, too, which is a great mentality to have. The media will not be making any comments about Mourinho’s return, either, because he has completely played it down.
“I have to try to forget it and try to do the job, you know? I played there with Inter and I tried to do my job.
“If you ask me if my team scores a goal, am I going to celebrate like a crazy kid? No! I think I can emotionally control that situation.
“Am I going to have any negative reaction if the crowd has something negative with me? No! Again, I have the maturity to control that emotion.
“But, what Man United fans can expect from me is more important in this moment and what the Man United fans can expect from me is that we will play against Chelsea in the same way I played against Fenerbahce, Liverpool, and everyone.”