Mourinho has 'zero criticism' of 'exhausted' United but again questions defensive trio
Jose Mourinho refused to blame his "exhausted" Manchester United players for conceding a late equaliser to Swansea City but again appeared to question the commitment of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw.
Wayne Rooney's first-half penalty had looked set to secure a win for the home side that would have lifted them into the top four only for Gylfi Sigurdsson's 80th-minute free-kick to stun Old Trafford.
United's frustrations were compounded as they lost Luke Shaw to a leg injury inside the first 10 minutes before Eric Bailly limped off in the second half with what looked to be an ankle problem.
Mourinho feels his squad is simply paying the price for a hectic fixture schedule but would not blame those who started the match as they slipped to a 10th home league draw of the season.
"We lost players and we lost points, so yes, it was a bad day," he told BT Sport. "It's not that we look tired and exhausted, we are.
"You cannot isolate the performance out of the context. The context is nine matches in April with a squad of 22 that is reduced to 13 or 14 players, with players who are very, very, very tired.
"Did Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young look sharper than other people? Of course, they did not play the last match. I am more than happy with the players, they gave everything they could. I have zero criticism."
.@DesKellyBTS: "Did they look tired or was it a lack of form?"
José: "They didn't look tired...we are!"
Mourinho defends his players. pic.twitter.com/VrtkKFe5eQ
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) April 30, 2017
However, Mourinho once more seemed unimpressed by the efforts of Shaw, Smalling and Jones in their respective fitness struggles.
The manager said he expects "a big injury" for Shaw given how early he came off and would not discuss the prospect of the England centre-back duo being fit for Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg against Celta Vigo.
"I don't know about the injuries. I think Luke Shaw's must be a big injury, because to leave the pitch after 10 minutes I am expecting a very big injury," he said. "At the moment, we cannot walk from the bed to the toilet.
"I prefer not to speak about Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. I prefer to speak about Juan Mata, giving everything to be available [following groin surgery]. I am grateful for that."
10 - Man Utd have reached double figures for home league draws for only the second time in their history (11 in 1980/81). Stalemate.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 30, 2017
Mourinho spoke in the past week about Jones and Smalling's "cautious" approach to injury comebacks and it remains to be seen if either will be available to face Celta.
Injuries to Bailly and Marcos Rojo could leave United fielding a makeshift defence at Balaidos and Mourinho even claimed he would not be disappointed with his players if they now fail to reach the Europa League final.
"We will give everything on Thursday. That is sure," he said. "Whether we go to the final or not doesn't matter, I am really happy with the guys."