Alexis Sanchez set for Manchester United debut at Huish Park
New United signing in the squad and ready to play against Yeovil in FA Cup fourth round
Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez is set to make his debut against Yeovil in the FA Cup fourth round. Photo: Getty Images
José Mourinho has confirmed Alexis Sánchez will go straight into the Manchester United squad for Friday’s FA Cup tie at Yeovil and believes “one of the best attacking players in the world” can only complement an already impressive front line.
“We now have five attacking players of high quality,” the United manager said. “To be able to choose from Mata, Rashford, Lukaku, Martial and now Alexis is fantastic for me and the team. Not everyone will be able to play at the same time but that is life at a big club; you cannot compete in a serious way with just 11 players, it is impossible. We want to improve all the time, we want to achieve big things and we will not stop until we do that. Players at big clubs have to accept competition for places. They might not like finding themselves on the bench some days but I am happy with that.”
Sánchez arrived at Old Trafford this week in a straight swap with Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a deal Mourinho described as “fantastic” for both clubs. “The deal is good for everybody,” he said. “I lost a fantastic player, so did Mr Wenger. Mkhi has gone to a fantastic club and Alexis changed from a fantastic club to a giant club.
“I believe Mkhi is going to be even better than he was with us. He has had one and a half years in England now and he should fit in with the way Arsenal play and think. Could he have performed better for us, could I have got more from his talent? Maybe. Maybe too he could have given a little more to adapt to us, but I don’t have any regrets, he’s in our history now and we have a player who can operate anywhere in the attacking positions.
“I have known Alexis for many years. I was in Italy when he was at Udinese, I was in Spain when he was at Barcelona and in England when he was at Arsenal. He can play on the left and on the right, as a striker and behind the striker. So he can play in four different positions, and as we have all seen, Alex has been successful in every role, in every country, for every manager. We want the best players possible and he is one of the best attacking players in the world.”
So is Cristiano Ronaldo, though Mourinho was unwilling to add to speculation that a possible return to United might be on the cards. “I think with the moment Real Madrid are having now I should be the last one to add fuel to the fire,” the United manager said. “I care about the club, I worked there for three years, so to put water on the fire instead I would say Cristiano is the kind of player every manager and club wants but only Zidane and Real Madrid can have him.”
Yeovil expecting strong United team
Darren Way has said he does not expect José Mourinho to gamble on team selection against Yeovil Town tonight after Manchester United came unstuck on their last visit to the West Country, when they lost at Bristol City in the Carabao Cup.
Mourinho rested Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku among others at Ashton Gate last month but they could feature in the FA Cup fourth round at Huish Park, and Alexis Sánchez is in United’s squad after his move from Arsenal.
“I reckon it will be a stronger team than they played against Bristol City, I really do,” Way said. “Whether Mourinho takes that gamble to make the changes he made against City, I’ll be very surprised. He is not going to come here and take this lightly. By watching them over a number of years as a Chelsea fan, I still think Mourinho’s the best.
“The guy’s a winner, he wins trophies year after year. He’s probably a season away from winning the league with Manchester United. Mourinho’s teams are strong and aggressive, so we have to match that, but as long as we have that concentration, I expect us to put in a really good performance. I would love to take them back to Old Trafford, that’s for sure.”
Yeovil will be without the former Manchester United trainee Otis Khan, who begins a five-game ban after being sent off against Chesterfield last weekend after pushing the referee, Kevin Johnson. The striker and captain, Francois Zoko, who is expected to lead the line, insists it is important the players enjoy the test.
“I started [my career]in France where I played against Ronaldinho, Pochettino, Drogba,” Zoko, a former Nancy striker, said. “And after in Turkey against some good players at the Ali Sami Yen [Galatasaray’s then stadium] and some good players, and in Belgium too. But in England it is different and the FA Cup is a really special competition, where everything can happen.
“I will say to them to just enjoy the game, play the game. You have to respect your opponent but not too much – they are human like us. We are young, some of my team-mates are just 19, but we are good enough to beat Manchester United.” – Guardian service