Crystal Palace
Game Details

Man United need to make this work

Marcotti's Musings

Lindelof and Bailly deserve more chances

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho 'surprised' Belgium chose to play Marouane Fellaini

Jose Mourinho feels a big atmosphere like Anfield will enhance his Man United's motivation.

MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho has said he was "surprised" by the decision to play Marouane Fellaini in Belgium's meaningless World Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Fellaini will miss Manchester United's trip to Liverpool on Saturday after suffering a knee injury during his country's 4-3 win.

The midfielder had been unable to train in the build-up to the game because of an ankle problem and lasted just 29 minutes before damaging ligaments.

The game meant nothing to Belgium, whose coach Roberto Martinez had already secured World Cup qualification.

Mourinho told a news conference on Friday: "I cannot control what they do in the national team. I was surprised, yes. Not angry.

"I know that I cannot control what happens in the national teams, so I cannot be angry."

Manchester UnitedManchester United
Game Details

Fellaini returned to Carrington on Tuesday to be assessed by United's medical staff before returning to Belgium to continue his rehabilitation in Antwerp.

His absence at Anfield, coupled with injuries to Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba, leaves Mourinho with just two senior central midfielders in Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera.

Marouane Fellaini of Belgium
Marouane Fellaini will not be available for Man United after picking up an injury on Belgium duty.

Liverpool head into the game seventh in the table with just three wins from their opening seven games, but Mourinho said he was not expecting the home side to play like a team under pressure.

He added: "I know the quality of their players, the quality of their team.

"I know that better now because in the last couple of weeks I tried to analyse them and study them in a more precise way. I know what they are."

United have started the season in impressive fashion, winning six of their first seven games and scoring 21 goals, and Mourinho said the game at Anfield would not be make-or-break.

He said: "If you win you're in a better position, if you lose you are in a worse position. If you win you are not champions and if you lose you don't lose your chance to be champion.

"If you win, you cannot leave Anfield like you won the Premier League, because you didn't, if you lose you cannot leave Anfield like you are going to be relegated, because that is a big problem.

"No, we go to play the game, we want to win the game, we know it's going to be very difficult."

Neutrals will be hoping the game matches the atmosphere after last October's drab 0-0 draw at Anfield -- a match when Mourinho frustrated Liverpool, just as he did many times at Chelsea.

"No, when I got to the match I don't think about it,'' he said about his own personal duel with the Reds, which included the Blues all but ending their title hopes.

"I won big matches at Anfield, I lost big matches at Anfield. I left that stadium so happy, I left that stadium so sad.

"Their supporters left that stadium in the direction of the Champions League final, and they left that stadium devastated because they lost a title, almost in the last game.

"This is football, this is the beauty of football and again, I like to play there because everything is good.

"Then, the result can be good or bad, but to play there is great. I did that with Chelsea and I did that once with Manchester United and I hope to play there many times more.''

Information from PA Sport was used in this story.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.