Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has admitted his side are short of the quality of Europe's very best teams ahead of the club's return to Champions League football on Tuesday night, reported the Sun.
United face FC Basel at Old Trafford in their opening group stage game and are one of five English clubs to take part in the competition this season, but speaking ahead of the fixture the Portuguese boss admitted United - plus the rest of the teams from the Premier League - were at a disadvantage when compared with a number of the competition's top contenders.
While stopping short of speaking of the qualities of his rivals, Mourinho did state in no uncertain terms that the Premier League does little to help its European participants with more favourable scheduling of league games. He said: “In the Champions League there are four or five teams with an incredible level of quality, experience and know-how that makes the difference.
“Real (Madrid) last year played the last month in La Liga with the second team and they arrived at the final with a fresh team. Juventus, because they were champions three months in advance, could play the last month with a second team and arrive fresh.
“For English teams, that’s impossible because normally the competition goes very strong until the end. In other countries there’s a winter break, which is cultural. Then there’s the fact we have to play many times two days before matches in Europe. Other countries protect their clubs.
“For example, Benfica played Friday in Portugal. In Italy they always do that, PSG played Friday and it’s the same in Spain, Germany. But no complaints. If we think the players are tired, we have to play with others.''
United also face the likes of Benfica and CSKA Moscow in their Champions League group, and will be hopeful of finishing in first place after the initial six games are over.