Mourinho places all his chips on Europa League final

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has turned his focus to Manchester United's Europa League final, referring to their Premier League run-in as "matches we don't want to play".

Speaking to Sky Sports after the 1-2 loss to Tottenham on Sunday, the United manager said: "What we did was compulsory. I'm happy. They played 90 minutes, no injuries. And one last match to play, because in this moment the Premier League is just matches we don't want to play."

He also insisted that he was not upset at missing out on a top-four finish and took a fresh swipe at his rivals by saying that they would rather still be fighting for a third trophy this season - like United.

Mourinho made eight changes to his side that reached the Europa League final with a 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo at Old Trafford. But they were no match for a home side who would have scored more but for the saves of David de Gea.

The defeat against Tottenham means United are now likely to finish sixth.

"I'm not upset. We had to make that decision," he said. "When people say, 'We gambled', we didn't gamble, we didn't choose Europa League.

"We had to do it because, if I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Ibrahimovic, Tim Fosu-Mensah, if I have these guys (who are injured), 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."

However, United could add the Europa League to the Community Shield and League Cup triumphs this season by beating Ajax in the final in Stockholm on May 24. Victory would secure them a place in the Champions League.

In a dig aimed at Liverpool and Manchester City, who are favoured to finish in the top four, he said that lifting silverware was paramount for big clubs.

"For us, it's more important to win titles than to finish top four," the Portuguese said. "So, if we can win a third title, that would be magnificent.

"If we lose the final, we don't play Champions League. But we fight for titles and other clubs in the top four, probably they would like to be in our position."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho places all his chips on Europa League final'. Print Edition | Subscribe