Jose Mourinho in plea to Crystal Palace to 'go soft' on Manchester United
Bewildered Jose Mourinho last night made an astonishing plea for Crystal Palace to go easy on his Manchester United side this Sunday ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm.
United will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of Sunday's fixture and Palace cannot be relegated with three teams already down. After their 0-0 draw at Southampton, Mourinho was adamant that the fixture should be brought forward but added he would not waste time making such a request.
"In any country in the world the match would be Saturday because we are sixth no matter what and Crystal Palace are safe," he said.
Mourinho added he will field a team of kids against Palace and even begged rival boss Sam Allardyce to go easy on them.
He said: "I hope Big Sam shows he is a good friend and he asks Wilfried Zaha to go slow and leaves Chrsitian Benteke at home and they go soft on us."
Allardyce did show sympathy for his opposite number and said there was 'no doubt' their final game of the season should have been moved.
"They could easily have changed it last week and said 'We will give you the best chance to try to win the Europa League'.
"It's a great shame that we are not like other countries, who will bend over in fixture terms to help their teams win European competitions. We've all been moaning about the fact we're not getting anywhere near the Champions League or we're not getting anyone winning the Europa League.
"When you look at Jose's fixture list, this will be his 63rd game on Sunday. It's a tremendous effort but no help unfortunately from the Premier League to give him the best chance of winning a trophy that Manchester United haven't won. That would happen abroad. They would change the fixtures for you.
"Because there is nothing on our fixture it is easy to change it. We're not going to influence anything one way or the other in terms of results for ourselves, and it would have been a good gesture by the Premier League to have done it to give them the best chance."
Allardyce is already without Andros Townsend for a fixture Mourinho says will be started by his 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Joel Pereira. As he has done recently, the Portuguese again plans to field a weakened XI, saying "I hope you don't kill me when you see my team".
Allardyce was then asked if he would do the same in Mourinho's position, and he said: "No doubt about that. The XI that play at Stockholm would probably not feature at all in this last game.
"It would be wrong for me as a manager to jeopardise anybody that you want to pick for that football match. We all know that injuries happen more in competitive matches than they do in training.
"Having played 62 games, the rest period between now and playing in that game is massive for his team.
"We're going to play the last game with the fittest team we've got. There will be some changes but my team want to play at Old Trafford. They don't want me to leave them out.
"Whether Jose plays a weakened side or not, it will always be a difficult task because if there are younger players at Manchester United, they're definitely talented. It's a job we need to do and hopefully we can go there and do it. The players are looking forward with no pressure on them to go perform on one of the biggest stages in football."