Jose Mourinho has been thinking of his players’ wellbeing and energy levels as he gears up for Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool.
The Portuguese coach has given his non-international players four days off ahead of the match, report the Manchester Evening News.
Mourinho, whose fixed day off policy quickly endeared himself to his United squad, had the players in for training between Tuesday and Thursday last week following the draw with Stoke and the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw have enjoyed long weekends. United players are due back in training on Tuesday.
United travel to Liverpool for the clubs’ first nocturnal Premier League fixture in 12 years on Monday, affording Mourinho’s internationals more recovery time from their international excursions.
Ibrahimovic gave supporters an insight into his preparations on Friday evening when he posted a picture of himself after a session on the treadmill.
Ibrahimovic wrote on Instagram: “There is no free time, there is hard work and objectives.”
Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Sam Johnstone were not selected by their national teams. Ibrahimovic retired from international football after Euro 2016, United requested Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan remain in Manchester,Luke Shaw was not fit enough for England and Phil Jones is injured.
Last season, Louis van Gaal gave Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo permission to enjoy city breaks in Venice and Paris during the October international fortnight and the pair returned to the starting line-up at Everton a week later, where Herrera scored and Rojo enjoyed arguably his finest performance in a United shirt.
Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Van Gaal all reserved the right to haul United players in for training had they suffered a defeat, yet Mourinho has specified an unalterable day off regardless of the most recent result, it is understood.
The move has especially pleased United’s senior players, who are now able to plan days out with their family and children in the knowledge they will not be called into Carrington at the 11th hour.
Mourinho’s rationale is that as United players they are bound to take defeats badly and, by summoning them in for an unscheduled training session, he could exacerbate the players’ domestic climate. United players are ‘chuffed’ with the new regime, with the fixed days off cited as the most pleasing aspect about it.
Seventeen members of Mourinho’s 26-man squad have been on international duty this month, with South American trio Antonio Valencia, Sergio Romero and Rojo expected to figure in Ecuador and Argentina’s fixtures on Tuesday evening.
Matteo Darmian, David de Gea, Herrera and Eric Bailly have already finished their commitments, since their countries’ last autumn internationals this month came at the weekend.
Daley Blind, Memphis, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial could all be involved as the Netherlands host France tonight, while Marouane Fellaini should start for Belgium again in Gibraltar.
Wayne Rooney, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Chris Smalling are all available for England coach Gareth Southgate against Slovenia in Ljubliana on Tuesday.
Mourinho won at Anfield four times with Chelsea, losing on three occasions and drawing twice.