Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho 'thanks' Michael Oliver for saving club's season from 'disaster'

United's congested fixture schedule would only be more busy had they not been eliminated from the FA Cup by Chelsea in March

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho has thanked referee Michael Oliver for ‘saving’ Manchester United’s season with his performance in their FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Chelsea.

During the first half of the tie at Stamford Bridge in March, with the score at 0-0, Ander Herrera was shown a second yellow card by Oliver for a late challenge on Eden Hazard.

Chelsea went on to win the game through a goal from N’Golo Kante and after the final whistle, Mourinho lay the blame for United’s elimination solely at the door of the Northumberland official.

However, two months on, Mourinho finds himself attempting to negotiate a busy end-of-season schedule in order to give his side the best chance of winning the Europa League.

United must play two Premier League games before next Wednesday’s final in Stockholm and Mourinho has now sarcastically thanked Oliver, as he believes the Herrera dismissal prevented his side’s fixture list from becoming even more congested.

“I repeat the same, thank you Michael Oliver, because we were out in the FA Cup, because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster,” the United manager said.

“I don’t know when we would be playing that game. I never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries, not small, not the injuries that you say ‘ok, hamstring, two weeks’.

“No. It’s surgery, boom, boom. It’s surgery, one knee, another knee, another foot. Just big surgeries. So fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It’s very difficult, really very difficult. But we are there and we go to the final.”

Mourinho added: “The accumulation of the games, I never had that. You know that in all of my career I was never out of European competitions in the group phases. And in the last 16 I was out only once. So I reached the semi-finals 10 times.

“I go always until the end of the competitions. In the League Cup I normally go far. In the domestic competitions cups, I won in Spain, in Italy, in Portugal so I normally have a lot of matches. But like this I never have, I never have.”