Between The Lines: Mourinho unlikely to start Pogba, Fred or Fellaini vs Liverpool

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Valencia in their final Champions League group game on Wednesday night, as they finished second in Group H.

Jose Mourinho handed some of his fringe players in recent weeks the chance to impress against the La Liga side while resting others ahead of their big Premier League clash with leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, but the defeat was hardly a glowing endorsement of their ability.

In fact, with Juventus’ loss against Young Boys the Red Devils would have finished top if they had won and subsequently avoided the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Mourinho’s post-match comments suggested he was not happy with the players who stepped in at the Mestalla.

What did he say?

According to quotes as reported Bleacher Report, the 55-year-old said when asked if he had learned anything about his players:

“No, maybe you did. Not me. I didn’t learn anything from this game. Anything. Nothing that happened surprised me at all.”

Mourinho went on to add:

“But I expect [better] from my players, especially players that week in, week out, you ask me ‘why don’t they play?’, ‘why they don’t they start?’

“[It] was a good match to play, a match without any kind of pressure, a match in a competition that everybody likes to play.

“But we started the first half playing too comfortable and not with enough intensity.

“And, in the end, my team improved, really, when I made the changes that I didn’t want to make.”

What do his comments imply?

Well, firstly Mourinho clearly wasn’t impressed with the players he gave an opportunity to impress, and it is likely that he is pointing the finger at his midfield players.

Fred, who has been rarely seen on the pitch following his big-money summer move, looked off the pace against Valencia and didn’t show the energy levels he has shown he can bring previously, while Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba should have had a point to prove having not started the club’s previous two Premier League matches.

They didn’t though and the fact that Mourinho says his team didn’t play with enough intensity and only improved when he brought Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard is not good news for the midfield trio, who look likely to lose their places to Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Lingard at Anfield on Sunday.