Jose Mourinho draws comfort but won't rest big guns for United's Chelsea duel
FC Rostov 1 - Manchester United 1
Jose Mourinho insisted that despite the toughness of Manchester United's schedule he would not be taking a reserve side to Monday's FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea.
It was after midnight in Russia last night when United began the 2,100-mile journey home from Rostov after a hard-fought 1-1 draw in a Round of 16 Europa League first-leg clash.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring for the Red Devils, but Rostov hit back through Aleksandr Bukharov.
Referring to the club's youth-team manager, Mourinho said he would "not be taking a Nicky Butt team to Stamford Bridge" even though they play the second leg of their Europa League tie with Rostov three days later.
Mourinho is taking a sharply different course of action to Manchester City, who last season sent a hopelessly weakened side to Chelsea as their manager, Manuel Pellegrini, prioritised the Champions League.
However, with United by no means guaranteed to finish in the Premier League's top four and the Europa League winners qualifying for the Champions League, Mourinho cannot afford to be picky.
"We have to keep the two doors open," he said. "We need to keep going in the Premier League and, if you are in the quarter-final, we would feel the door is open to us in the Europa League. We have to try.
"We have a trophy in our pocket (the League Cup) and that is a good feeling for everybody. I know we have to beat Rostov at Old Trafford to reach the quarter-finals but we cannot go with a Nicky Butt team because last season Manchester United was the winner of the competition."
Nevertheless, Mourinho recognised that his side had performed well under difficult circumstances. Rostov had only lost once on their own ground in European competitions this season and the United manager had compared their pitch to "a field".
"This is the knockout phase and, if we were in a group stage and it was all about points, Rostov would have been happy with a point but they have lost two important defenders in Timofei Kalachev and Vladimir Granat, who are suspended for the game at Old Trafford," said Mourinho. "They had to try everything to be in front for the second leg and we know that a 1-1 draw is not a bad result for us."
However, Mourinho argued that although Rostov have a very shaky away record in Europe, they will still present a danger. "The game is still open and this Rostov team have experience in playing big matches. They also have an extra day's rest. They play Terek Grozny on Sunday and we play at Chelsea on Monday."
Mourinho also played down his touchline row with Kalachev during the game. He said: "After the match we spoke, we hugged and we said nice things. He apologised and I told him I was glad he would not be playing at Old Trafford."
ROSTOV: Medvedev, Kalachev, Mevlja, Navas, Granat (Terentyev, 18 mins), Kudryashov, Noboa, Erokhin, Gatskan, Bukharov (Azmoun, 74 mins), Poloz. Unused subs: Goshev, Kireev, Bayramyan, Prepelita.
MAN UTD: Romero, Young, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Blind (Valencia, 90 mins), Pogba, Fellaini, Herrera (Carrick, 90 mins), Mkhitaryan (Martial, 67 mins), Ibrahimovic. Unused subs: De Gea, Lingard, Mata, Rashford.
Man of the Match: Marcos Rojo
Match rating: 5/10
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany)