Manchester United’s victory over Burnley on Sunday once again put them in a prime position to secure a Champions League qualification, as it left them just a point behind Manchester City, who they face on Thursday night.
But while you’d have probably assumed that both Manchester United and Jose Mourinho are now fully focused on achieving victory over Manchester City, the Portuguese manager has instead insisted that his attention is actually on the semi-finals of the Europa League.
In the post-match press conference following Manchester United’s victory over Burnley, which was attended by The Sport Review, Jose Mourinho teased that his intention is to now win the Europa League, which means that he might rest players for their heated contest against the Citizens.
“[There is] one point [between United and Manchester City] so the situation is open but Man City has to play Premier League football and we have to play in the semi-finals of a European competition. Yes, it’s an objective to try to finish in the top four but my feeling, my understanding, what I like to share, is that this club is made to win trophies. In the Premier League, we cannot win it. In the Europa League, we have a 25-percent chance of winning it. So, I think we have to put everything into the Europa League.”
Jose Mourinho also made comments of a similar ilk to Sky Sports after the contest with Burnley, as he underlined that he was brought to Old Trafford to win trophies, not just contest for fourth place.
“The gap is one point — but we are a bit in trouble as we have an eye on Celta Vigo too. This makes it more difficult for us as the Premier League fourth position is possible but it’s not a trophy. In this club we want trophies – in the Europa League we have 25 percent chance of winning it and in the Premier League we have zero percent chance of winning it. We’re going to go for it.”
Jose Mourinho has actually already won two trophies as the manager of Manchester United. Not only did he secure the Community Shield for the club thanks to their 2-1 victory over Leicester City in August, which was secured courtesy of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header. Jose Mourinho then added to his trophy haul as Manchester United manager in February, when they managed to claim the EFL Cup courtesy of a 3-2 win over Southampton. Once again Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the reason for Manchester United’s triumph, as he struck the free-kick to open the scoring as well as the final goal in the contest to secure the victory.
But while Manchester United fans are happy to have seen the club win these two trophies, they expected Jose Mourinho to at least lead the club into the the top four, where they have only finished once in the three seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Manchester United’s board of executives are adamant that the club return to the Champions League in the very near future. But while that would be achieved by finishing in top four, they can also do this through winning the Europa League, too.
Manchester United are clear favorites to win the Europa League, as they are taking on Celta Vigo in the semi-final of the competition, while the other semi-final will see Ajax take on Lyon. Meanwhile, Manchester United’s remaining Premier League fixtures are regarding as extremely difficult, as not only do they have to visit Manchester City, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur, but also Swansea, Southampton, and Crystal Palace, too. Which suggests that Jose Mourinho might be making the right choice in making the Europa League the priority over the Premier League.
[Featured Image by Getty/Jan Kruger]