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Mourinho hits out at Uefa for staging Europa League tie in sub-zero Ukraine

United’s final Europa League group fixture is subject to a pitch inspection tomorrow morning.

United's players trained at the stadium this evening.
United's players trained at the stadium this evening.
Image: Efrem Lukatsky

MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER Jose Mourinho has strongly criticised Uefa for staging Europa League games in sub-zero Ukraine in December.

United are scheduled to face Zorya at the Chornomorets Stadium on Thursday but with overnight temperatures expected to plummet to -7 degrees, the match is subject to a pitch inspection tomorrow morning.

In an effort to ensure the pitch is playable for the biggest fixture in the club’s history, Zorya are using heaters on the playing surface.

The game is set for a 6.05pm (8.05pm local time) kick-off but after his players trained at the stadium this evening, Mourinho was left less than impressed.

“The pitch is very hard, it is icy,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference.

“I think Uefa knows the conditions of the pitch. Everybody knows that in mid-December, the conditions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe are more difficult.

“If they are concerned, they should not allow the last fixture to be played here in December. The fifth fixture is in late November and they should not play here in December.

Ukraine Europa League Soccer United players on the pitch earlier this evening. Source: Efrem Lukatsky

“Our flight here was good, the hotel is good, the stadium is good, but the pitch is bad. It is very cold and I know it is very difficult to have a better pitch. The people are trying to make it better and put heat on it, but they cannot do miracles, so let us hope that all goes well.”

Mourinho is, however, desperate for Man United to progress in the Europa League despite the competition clogging up their fixture list.

The Premier League side need a draw from their final Group A outing to seal their place in the knockout stages.

With Europa League matches being played on Thursdays, it leaves little time for United to prepare for weekend Premier League games, and as a result their domestic form has been underwhelming.

United have won just one of their last eight Premier League contests, drawing six of those encounters.

Since arriving at Old Trafford Mourinho has been less than enthusiastic about the competition and the strains it places on his squad, but he insists remaining in Europe is a priority.

“We know that it’s a crucial match for us so if we lose the match we can be out,” he continued. ”We don’t want to be out. Zorya are out but they have a match to play and I believe that they are going to try to win the match as well.

Ukraine Europa League Soccer Mourinho speaking at his pre-match press conference. Source: Efrem Lukatsky

“It’s an important competition for us. It’s difficult because we play Thursdays and then Sundays, we’re never given a Monday match to have one more day to rest and prepare. So it’s difficult to play along with the domestic competitions.

“But we want to try to win it. We want to go to the knockouts and try to go as far as possible, step by step. The first step is a difficult one, which is to qualify from a very difficult group.”

Mourinho’s intentions with made clear by naming a strong 19-man travelling party for tomorrow’s game with Wayne Rooney back in the squad after sitting out the draw with Everton.

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Ryan Bailey

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