José Mourinho blames Marouane Fellaini's absence for slip-up at Stoke


The Spain global is delighted United have returned to the senior European competition, saying: "It's good to be back in the Champions League at Old Trafford".

"Even if Jones and Bailly were not suspended, I would probably play Smalling and Lindelof".

No wonder United manager Jose Mourinho sounded a note of caution when Basel was drawn as a group-stage opponent in this season's Champions League. "It was good because we won the competition and we fight for the position to play and that's good for the group to keep working hard in training".

"But we are strong, we are playing well, we have good confidence in ourselves".

He however stated that Maroune Fellaini who missed United's Premier League clash against Stoke City on Saturday due to injury, might be included in the squad.

It has been two years since United last played in the group stages of the competition having won the Europa League against Ajax to gain their passage, Basel certainly won't be strangers to United having knocked them out in the 2011/12 season and Nemanja Matić stated their curtain raiser won't be an easy one.

Lindelof, who will partner Chris Smalling, endured a hard pre-season and has only made one competitive appearance for United, when he struggled in the Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid. After a dismal performance in the 2016 Champions League group stage, Spurs have been given the near impossible task as they look to navigate their way through the group of death. The Sweden global has not featured in any of Manchester United's opening Premier League fixtures so far, but Mourinho is happy to throw him into Champions League matters as he does not "need to adapt".

Mourinho also confirmed David de Gea will start in goal instead of Sergio Romero, who often appeared in cup competitions last season.

City travel to Feyenoord for the Dutch champions' return to the Champions League for the first time since 2001, whilst Chelsea host Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag. It is important to note that this side dropped points against Stoke City on the weekend but I don't think that the draw will matter to them greatly. Benfica, CSKA and Basel all have plenty of experience at this level and will gladly give the Red Devils the role of favourite in all of their matches. Rashford had not started his senior career the last time United were in the Champions League.

I admire him. He does not care what people think about him.

Real Madrid are one of the teams that Mourinho believes are in a different league to United. The first leg was a draw match as both sides scored three goals each. They can't afford to have a second season like their last so this can be a fresh start with a fresh manager.