Newcastle United may be set for an early season boost as they prepare for the upcoming campaign, if the words of Jose Mourinho are anything to go by.
Rafa Benitez’s side have a gruelling run of fixtures in the opening weeks of the new Premier League season, and may take great encouragement from Mourinho’s conceding that many of his Manchester United players will not be ready for action following the World Cup.
Paul Pogba was among the United stars who went all the way at the tournament, as the French midfield star won the tournament in Russia as a key part of Didier Deschamps’ side, whilst Romelu Lukaku also reached the semi-final stage with Belgium.
As reported by The Mag, such extensive involvement at the World Cup for a number of United’s star players may have a telling impact on Mourinho’s plans for the opening weeks of the new season and may see the Portuguese manager have to do without the likes of Pogba.
It would come as a boost to the likes of Newcastle, who encounter a number of sides who will be in a similar position to Mourinho’s United in the opening run of Premier League fixtures.
Speaking to Russia Today, via The Mag, Mourinho said of his players likely to be absent due to their extensive exertions at the World Cup: “We cannot start the Premier League with our players that were in the World Cup.
“Which is a shame for the most important club competition in Europe. Three week is the minimum [recovery time] that their body and soul needs, which is the minimum for them to return and think about football again [after the World Cup].
“To bring them back before that would be… ‘OK, I can have you for the first match of the season but maybe I don’t have you in three or four months.’
“I think three weeks is the minimum they need. Which means they are going to be back in the week when the Premier League starts.
“This means they’re not ready to start the Premier League, which is I think difficult to understand, where we could have one more week to prepare everybody.”
Chat with Rafa Benitez at Newcastle’s training camp in Dublin.— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) July 17, 2018
Me: “Rafa, are you under the impression you have to sell before you can buy?”
Benitez: “Yeah, maybe. I think it’s normal for us now to be like that. Unfortunately we wheel and deal - it’s the way for us.”
By Mourinho’s logic, and assuming that the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City also adopt the Portuguese’s approach to the break period required for players before returning to action from the World Cup for their clubs, Newcastle could be handed a much-needed boost in their opening round of matches.
It would mean that Manchester City could be without the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany, who both reached the semi-finals in Russia with Belgium, as well as John Stones, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling who all played for England in the last four.
Chelsea would have similar difficulties, with Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard also starring in Belgium’s run to the last four in Russia, along with N’Golo Kante who lifted the cup with France.
Tottenham, meanwhile, would almost certainly be without World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris, Belgian defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen and midfielder Mousa Dembele for their opening match of the season at St. James’ Park; not to mention England stars Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier and Danny Rose.
With Newcastle’s first month of the upcoming Premier League campaign appearing daunting on paper, Rafa Benitez will be hoping that the words of old foe Jose Mourinho ring true and work in the Magpies’ favour.