MANCHESTER United manager Jose Mourinho has urged his fans to find their voice when it hosts Liverpool in the English Premier League on Sunday, telling them to not just “come to the theater” but “play with us”.
United defeated Hull City 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg of the English League Cup semifinal with second-half goals from midfielders Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini.
The Portuguese, however, was not impressed by the subdued atmosphere in the first half which reflected the lackluster performance from his players on the pitch.
“I think in the first half the players have to do better, I have to do better, the fans they also have to do better,” Mourinho told the media. “Maybe I didn’t do my job well, maybe I should have brought more tension to the dynamic to prepare the game.”
Mourinho expected striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to feature against Liverpool after missing the Hull clash with illness, though defender Marcos Rojo is in doubt after he picked up an injury during the FA Cup win over Reading last weekend.
“Zlatan is ill so I think no problem, I think he will be fine (for Liverpool),” Mourinho said. “I don’t know (about Rojo). I’m not saying he’s not ready to play, I’m saying that I have my doubts.”
United is sixth in the league after 20 games with 39 points, trailing second-placed Liverpool by five points.
Meanwhile, Juergen Klopp says striker Daniel Sturridge needs to seize his opportunity to reclaim a spot in the Liverpool starting lineup as the club continues its hectic January schedule with a League Cup trip to Southampton yesterday.
Sturridge is back to full fitness and expected to feature in the semifinal first leg at St Mary’s to plug a gap left by the absence of Senegalese winger Sadio Mane, who is away on national duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“It would be fantastic and sometimes you need to feel lucky with timing,” Liverpool manager Klopp said of the England forward’s prospects of forcing his way into the side.
“Sadio is away, Philippe (Coutinho) is on the way back (from injury) and Daniel is already back. That helps and I hope it stays like this for him.”