Mourinho urges Man Utd players to follow in footsteps of tennis great

Jose Mourinho wants Manchester United’s players to follow tennis great Roger Federer’s lead and show their quality as they kick off their Champions League campaign on a plastic pitch.

Group-stage debutants Young Boys could have an advantage as the Red Devils return to continental action on Wednesday evening thanks to the Stade de Suisse surface.

A number of United’s players raised an eyebrow when stepping out for training on the synthetic pitch in Bern, with the added impact meaning United captain Antonio Valencia was not risked for the Group H opener.

Mourinho has let his feelings known about such surfaces to European football’s governing body UEFA but was keen to stress that it should not be an excuse, instead pointing to one of Switzerland’s favourite sons Federer’s versatility as inspiration.

“I don’t want to use that, especially before the match, as a possible excuse for a not very good performance,” Mourinho said of the pitch.

“Everybody knows it’s different but what I had to say I said last week in Geneva in the UEFA meeting that we had – and what can I say?

“I can get as an example, we are in Switzerland, the home of one of the best-ever tennis players, and I’m pretty sure that the big man sometimes is not happy to play on such a surface but he has to play and he has to win.

“Everybody knows that he has a favourite surface, but he has also to win on the surfaces that he is not in love with, so we have to do it.

“Valencia’s the only one that demanded (caution) from us, his situation, we need to protect his clinical situation. Apart from that, we go with everything we have, and we have to try to win.”