Manchester United’s hellish schedule could ruin their entire season

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho attends a press conference at the Aon Training Complex, Manchester, England, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Manchester United will play a Europa League round of 32 soccer match against Saint-Etienne on Thursday. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

We’ve just entered the month of March, but Manchester United already have reason to fear what is to come this month. And then April and May as well. That’s because their closing fixture list is absolutely brutal.

April and May are always two vitally important months as the season rounds to a close, but it’s even more of an issue for the Red Devils this year. The fixtures are piling up, and this hellish run they’re set to endure will make or break their entire season.

Manchester United are currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League, pushing for Champions League qualification. They’ve won the League Cup already, but they’re still hanging around in two other competitions as well, FA Cup and Europa League. That level of success is exactly what United are shooting for, but it could also potentially shoot them in the foot this year.

“The accumulation of FA Cup and League Cup and the match postponement make it really hard for us,” said Jose Mourinho. “If we progress in the competitions we will be in trouble in May. ”

Just look at their run in March.

This is the next five matches for Manchester United alone:

  • vs. Bournemouth
  • at FC Rostov
  • at Chelsea
  • vs. FC Rostov
  • at Middlesbrough

And all of that comes in a a 15-day span. Plus that trip to Rostov will total nearly 4,000 miles round-trip, and that’s just March.

As things stand, they’re facing six matches in the month of April. If they make it past Rostov in Europa League, that number could jump to eight. Should the league reschedule their Premier League fixture with Manchester City for April, that would take their match total to a staggering nine matches in the next-to-last month of the season — a task the Red Devils haven’t been handed since 1979.

United will then head into May with heavy legs, the inevitable injury issues that accompany that kind of pile-up, and the added pressure of a fight for a European place. That sort of fiendish scheduling could determine the whole course of their season. And that’s without even factoring a potential semifinal and final in the FA Cup and Europa Leagues.

No wonder Mourinho was so worried about fixture congestion.

Manchester United have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and an increasingly in-form team, but their season may not be determined by how good they play. It could come down to their schedule and the ridiculous number of matches in front of them. It could ruin it all.