In the post-match press conference after the Tottenham game on Sunday, Jose Mourinho stated that he has no regrets about Manchester United’s failure to finish in the Premier League top four, insisting that winning trophies is more important to the club.
After Sunday’s 2-1 defeat against Mauricio Pochettino’s men, it’s been confirmed that the Red Devils will finish outside top 4 in the Premier League for the second year running, as they are behind fourth-placed Manchester City by seven points with two matches remaining.
In order to find a place in the Champions League next season, United must beat Ajax in Stockholm on May 24, and Mourinho insisted that the Silverware is more important than the top-four finish, adding that the injuries of his key players had forced him to prioritise the Europa League over the domestic success.
He told the reporters: “I am not upset because we had to make that decision. When people say we gamble, we didn’t gamble, we didn’t choose the Europa League – we had to do it.
“Because if I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, if I had these guys I can rotate, I can go for every match. When I have 14, 15 players, I can’t do it. It’s as simple as that.”
There is no denying that four of five Manchester United losses this season have been in games played on Sunday immediately after the Europa League matches.
Mourinho said that it is impossible to replicate the performance in every three days and criticised United’s hectic schedule.
The Portuguese added: “It is not possible to do it every three days, with two matches in hand that we had to play later, it is impossible. We never had one occasion to rest, not even to train properly, so it was not a choice.
“We were pushed for that situation and even the [fixtures] draw… I never understood if it is a draw or if they put the data in the computer, but to finish the season with four matches away from home – Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City – if we were fighting for the title, what a way to fight for the title.
“If we want to try and get some results and protect players, which matches to protect players? I cannot go to Manchester City or Arsenal and put out five kids at the same time altogether. I cannot lose 5-0 or 6-0.
“So it’s difficult but we know what we are doing and I don’t know other clubs, I don’t know the way they think, I don’t know what is important for them. We, Manchester United, for us it is more important to win titles than to finish top four.”
United have already won the Community Shield and the EFL Cup this season, and if they beat Ajax at the Europa League final later this month, they will finish with three trophies as well as a spot in next season’s Champions League.
The Portuguese spoke about the importance of winning titles, and suggested that Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool, despite their league positions, would rather be competing in finals like United were.
“So if we can win a third title, or like you like to say a second title, if we can do that it would be magnificent for us because we know that it’s a big objective.
“We know that if we lose the final we don’t play Champions League. We know that. But we fight for titles and probably other clubs finishing in the top four, probably they would like to be in our position to try and fight for the title,” Jose concluded.
Written by Pragadeesh Shanmugam