Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claims English clubs are at a disadvantage in the Champions League

The Manchester United manager believes they and other Premier League sides face more obstacles in the Champions League than their continental counterparts

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Monday 11 September 2017 16:14
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Mourinho has won the Champions League twice before, with Porto and Inter
Mourinho has won the Champions League twice before, with Porto and Inter

Jose Mourinho has claimed that English clubs are at a disadvantage when competing in the Champions League due to “differences” between them and those from other countries.

Mourinho is preparing to Manchester United’s first game in European football’s elite club competition for two years, with Basel visiting Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

The Portuguese is hopeful of bringing success to United in the club’s “natural habitat”, but believes they and other Premier League sides face more obstacles than their continental counterparts.

Highlighting the cases of Real Madrid and Juventus, last season’s Champions League finalists, Mourinho argued that both were able to prioritise European competition in a way that no English club could.

“We have to face what we have. We have to admit that there are differences in relation to other countries. That's obvious but there is nothing to do, that's the way it is,” he said.

“Real Madrid last year played the last month in La Liga with a second team. They could do it. They arrived in the Champions League final with a fresh team.

“Juventus, because they were champions in Italy three months in advance, they could play the last month with a second team. They were fresh also for the quarter-finals, semi-finals, final. English teams normally that's impossible, because the competition goes very strong until the end.”

Mourinho guided United to European success last season by lifting the Europa League, but only did so after playing a second-string side in many of the club’s final Premier League fixtures and seeing their league position suffer.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, the United manager also suggested fixture scheduling and the lack of a winter break as reasons why English clubs face unique challenges when competing for continental honours.

Mourinho believes English clubs are unable to prioritise the Champions League

“No winter break and in other countries, winter break. That's cultural and it means a lot, and I have to admit I love it. I love the English Christmas period of football.

“Then the fact that we have to play many times with two days before the big matches in Europe, while other countries protect their clubs.

“Benfica played Friday night,” Mourinho added. “In Portugal,we always do that. In Italy, they always do that. Paris Saint-Germain played Friday, that happens all the time.

“But no complaints. This is what we have, we have squads. If we think they are tired, we played with other players.”

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