Belfast Telegraph

Hull v Manchester United: Mourinho wary of fixture congestion should Red Devils make final

By Mike Whalley

Manchester United boss has one eye on a potential fixture pile-up should his side progress to the EFL Cup final.

Mourinho is wary of potential fixture congestion should United reach the EFL Cup final, which looks likely with that 2-0 advantage ahead of tonight's clash at Hull.

Reaching the February 26 final, however, would mean the Premier League game against neighbours and top-four rivals Manchester City having to be rearranged.

With both Manchester clubs still in the FA Cup and also due to resume European campaigns in the spring, it is unclear when that fixture could be played.

Mourinho said: "I know that it's going to be hard if we go step by step. If we beat Hull and we play the final then we don't play against City. The match against City I'm sure they will choose an amazing moment, difficult for us, to make us play against them.

"Then we have Europa League. You have to play last 32 and last 16. If we are going to progress it's going to be really difficult.

"Let's see what happens in this moment. In this moment we have a 25 per cent chance to win the League Cup, which is the first competition to be decided."

Meanwhile, Mourinho has indicated that he intends to closely monitor the Football Association's response to the misconduct charge facing Arsene Wenger.

The Arsenal boss has been accused of verbally abusing and pushing a fourth official during his side's win over Burnley on Sunday, and has until 6pm tonight to respond.

Mourinho, whose men take a 2-0 lead to Hull in the EFL Cup second leg tonight, wants justice to be done in the case of his rival, having declared yesterday that, despite facing a number of misconduct charges himself in the past, he had never shoved an official in the manner which Wenger is alleged to have done.

In 2015, when he was in charge at Chelsea, Mourinho received a one-match stadium ban for misconduct relating to his language and behaviour, having gone to speak to referee Jon Moss at half-time after being sent to the stand during a match at West Ham.

That came weeks after he received a suspended stadium ban for suggesting that referees were "afraid" to give penalties to his team. Before that, in May 2014, Mourinho's assistant manager Rui Faria, who has followed him to Old Trafford, was given a six-match stadium ban for an altercation with officials.

Faria was for confronting Mike Dean after the referee awarded Sunderland what turned out to be a match-winning penalty at Stamford Bridge.

And in 2012, then-Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was fined £20,000 and given a two-match touchline ban for pushing an assistant referee during a game.

Wenger was charged after he was involved in a confrontation with fourth official Anthony Taylor at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Frenchman, who had been sent to the stand for reacting angrily to a 93rd-minute penalty awarded to Burnley, then pushed Taylor as he tried to watch the match from the tunnel area.

Wenger did later apologise for his conduct, but Mourinho said: "I never pushed the referee so I don't have a comparison. So I have no idea."

Mourinho was reluctant to get drawn too deeply into a discussion of his long-running rivalry with Wenger. The two managers have exchanged insults frequently down the years, and had a physical confrontation during a match at Stamford Bridge in October 2014, when Wenger pushed Mourinho. Asked about that, the Portuguese responded: "No. I cannot comment."

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