Mourinho confirms youth will be used; Gomes to make a sensational debut?


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gave his team news earlier today ahead of the final Premier League match of the season against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. The Portuguese manager stated that Paul Pogba will be back after the death of his father last weekend, needing minutes ahead of the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday evening in Sweden. Marouane Fellaini is a doubt for the match with the manager waiting on scans from the players hamstring injury sustained in the 0-0 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s on Wednesday evening. Chris Smalling is unavailable for the visit of the Eagles with a minor problem which will not rule him out of the Europa League final next week. Tim Fosu-Mensah was ruled out for the remainder of the season by Mourinho, but will now play a part in the match against Palace on Sunday. During his press conference, Mourinho confirmed the following:

“Paul Pogba is fine. A strong guy, strong mentality. He’s learning how to live after his father passed away, but he is strong. He knows that he needs to play on Sunday because he hasn’t played or trained for a long time and he needs these minutes on the pitch, so he plays against Palace.

“Chris Smalling has a problem, but a small problem that I think is no problem at all for next week. It’s a problem for the weekend but not for the final. Marouane Fellaini is the question mark; we wait for today’s scans, we decided not to do it yesterday. Again, his feelings aren’t bad, but let’s wait. Tim Fosu-Mensah plays on Sunday and, if the reaction is good, and if he manages to play the game without problems, he’s a new option for us for the final.”

Mourinho stated earlier in the week that a number of young players would be involved in the match on Sunday, with them training with the first team ahead of the match. Angel Gomes, a talented 16-year-old in the club’s Academy was a shock inclusion, which seems to have excited the United supporters in that he could play a part in the match this weekend, which would be good to see, but also a lot earlier than expected. Mourinho confirmed that both Sergio Romero and David De Gea will be rested with both Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara, one of them, probably Pereira will start in goal. The manager has also included Demi Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matty Willock, Gomes and Zachary Dearnley. On top of those, Tim Fosu-Mensah fresh from injury and Axel Tuanzebe will also be involved, which could see no less than ten youth players involved in the match on Sunday, which would set a cat amongst the pigeons with the media who are of the opinion Mourinho does not trust youth. Mourinho said:

“You will have the two goalkeepers, Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara. We will have Demi Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matty Willock, Angel Gomes and Zachary Dearnley. I think that’s it. Plus Tim Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe, so lots of them.”

In addition to the talented youth playing a part in the match, Mourinho confirmed that some first team players will be involved, which will add some stability to the team. Wayne Rooney may not be one of those players with his experience, despite his regression this season, playing a part in the Europa League final next week. The manager has stated that he will use three or four first team players, of which will play half a match each. This will mean a youthful lineup, one which will excite and show the players what could become providing they keep their heads down and work their way through the Academy. Many of the players involved may not be ready for the first team, some of whom are banging on the door of it. Mourinho will be able to answer a few questions of his team ahead of next season, where he will be expected to challenge the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal for the Premier League title, finishing behind all of those teams this season. Mourinho said:

“I think one [young player can play] in the middle of a good structure, a dynamic structure, an experienced structure, yes. But as for lots of them together, I think no [they aren’t ready].

“I will bring three of four of the first-team players, you know, to play one half each. I can give a little bit of experience to the team but, at the same time, save them all for Wednesday. I don’t know [whether] Wayne [will play] or not, he played 90 minutes in the last match, so probably not.”

United have a good future ahead of them. That will start after Sunday though with the Europa League final looked upon as more important than a Premier League dead rubber of which nothing can come from it. United will finish sixth this season, after finishing fifth last season, fourth the season before and seventh the season before that. Previous to that, United were the Premier League champions, something the club will be looking to address next season. With the youth available, the current first team and the players Mourinho will be looking to bring in during the summer, it could well be enough to challenge next season. Winning the Europa League and adding that to the EFL Cup and the FA Community Shield will be a turning point for United, not the promised land, but a stepping-stone towards that maybe?

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