Belfast Telegraph

Grimmer gives United a break

Manchester United's players have Coventry's Jack Grimmer to thank for ensuring they can travel to Dubai on Monday for warm-weather training.

Having played seven times in 20 days over the festive period, United, who beat Derby 2-0 in the FA Cup on Friday night, are not in action again until they host Stoke on Monday, January 15.

Manager Jose Mourinho will use the intervening period to take his team to Dubai next week on a trip that was dependent on the outcome of Saturday's FA Cup clash between Coventry and Stoke.

Had that contest, or United's own tie with the Rams, ended all square, a subsequent replay for either of the Premier League sides would have ensured Stoke's visit to Old Trafford would have been brought forward.

That would have prevented Mourinho and his players from jetting off to Dubai, so Grimmer's 68th-minute winner for League Two Coventry against the Potters would have been celebrated by the United squad too.

Speaking after his side's win over the Rams, Mourinho said: "If you have a replay, we don't go to Dubai and everybody wants to go.

"Did you see the players celebrating the second goal? Everybody wants to have a week of good training, good facilities, sun.

"It still depends on Stoke's result, if Stoke get a draw we don't go to Dubai."

Mourinho will leave for Dubai after reigniting his feud with Antonio Conte, having seemingly alluded to the Italian's connection to a previous match-fixing scandal.

The feud between the pair intensified when Chelsea boss Conte, known for his touchline exuberance, took umbrage at Mourinho's suggestion he did not need to act like "a clown" during games to prove he was passionate about the United job.

Quizzed on those comments, the current Blues boss bit back, suggesting one of his predecessors at Stamford Bridge had "demenza senile", which translates as senile dementia.

Hours later, after United's win over Derby, Mourinho got his chance to respond and after initially blaming the media rather than Conte, the Portuguese signed off with a reference to match-fixing.

Conte had been accused of failing to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena boss in 2011 and he duly served a four-month touchline ban in 2012.

He was acquitted of any wrongdoing over the matter in 2016, shortly before taking over at Chelsea.

Mourinho said of his comments: "A wrong question and obviously a strong answer but I don't blame (Conte).

"The only thing I want to say to end the story is yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline. Yes, I will make less but I think I will still make a few.

"What never happened to me and will never happen to me is to be suspended for match-fixing, that never happened to me and will never happen."

When later pressed on whether he was directly referencing Conte having previously been charged, Mourinho replied: "Did he? Not me."

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