Belfast Telegraph

English teams could thrive in Europe without League Cup, says Mourinho

Man United 4 Burton Albion 1

By Simon Peach

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes English football could be better off without the League Cup. Seven months after lifting the trophy at Wembley, United began their defence of what is now called the Carabao Cup by comfortably overcoming Sky Bet Championship side Burton.

Marcus Rashford's brace was complemented by goals from Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial on a night when Lloyd Dyer netted a late consolation in a win as comfortable for Mourinho's Reds as the 4-1 scoreline suggests.

United's strength in depth allowed them to make nine alterations without a noticeable dip in quality - but the visitors' nine changes meant it was likely to be a matter of how many the hosts scored.

The fact Burton view the early weeks of the league season as more important than a trip to Old Trafford highlights the issues with a competition that even last season's triumphant manager Mourinho believes could be dispensable.

"You know, if the competition is an official competition, it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager and I want the players to think the same way," he said.

"If you ask me could English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe.

"Maybe we would be fresher for European competitions, for example.

"But we have this competition, we have to respect, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents, we have to respect the professionalism of all of us trying to do the best.

"If we can win it, we win it. If we don't win it is because the opponents were better than us."

Burton boss Nigel Clough was delighted to see his side score at Old Trafford, even if Lloyd Dyer's strike was the last kick of the game.

"We were getting into good situations and not making more of them," Clough said. "We started the game on the front foot and tried to pin them back as much as you can here, but their first attack was a brilliant bit of play and he ends up with a great goal.

"It was just lovely for our supporters to get a goal. Most of them will never have dreamt that Burton Albion would ever score at Old Trafford. We've played here twice in 11 years and we've actually scored a goal now.

"It was an open game at times which might not necessarily suit us, but we tried to be positive."

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