Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has predicted his side will lose Sunday’s Premier League showdown at Middlesbrough after seeing his side progress to the Europa League quarter-finals with victory over FC Rostov last night.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic twice struck the post before Juan Mata settled matters in the second period, although United were indebted to a number of fine saves from back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
United lost midfielder Paul Pogba with an apparent hamstring injury, while Mourinho was intent on directing a cluster of thinly-veiled digs at top-flight rivals free from fixture congestion.
“We have lots of enemies,” said Mourinho. “It’s difficult to play Monday night with 10 men, it’s difficult to play now and it’s difficult to play Sunday 12 o’clock.
“The reality is we have lots of things going against us and we have to fight. The boys are amazing. Probably we lose the game on Sunday but we’ll try our best.
“The five teams in front of us in the league don’t have European football. We won’t be playing one match a week like some of them have since the start of the season. They don’t know what fatigue is.”
Ex-Chelsea midfielder Mata netted on 70 minutes as he calmly tapped home a clever Ibrahimovic flick from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross.