Get the points to finish second: Mourinho

LONDON • Manchester United cannot step off the gas following last weekend's derby win over Premier League leaders Manchester City and must ensure they get the points required to secure second place, manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday.

United rode on a sublime second-half performance by French midfielder Paul Pogba to seal a memorable 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium, but Mourinho said subsequent training sessions were spent in getting his players to move on from that win.

"During the week, I was trying to fight that result by working hard, trying to make the players understand that it is not enough to deserve to finish second," Mourinho told a news conference ahead of today's game against West Bromwich Albion. "We need the points to finish second... obviously to finish fourth, we need four or five points, but to finish second we need much more than that."

United are 13 points behind City, who can be crowned champions if they beat Tottenham this morning (Singapore time) and United lose at home to West Brom.

Mourinho said United, who are four points ahead of third-placed Liverpool who have played one more game, have to be cautious of their opponents who are desperate to secure points in a bid to ensure top-flight survival.

"They still smell a chance... it's a big challenge because in football they know anything is possible until mathematically it is impossible," the Portuguese said.

Mourinho has also warned Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford they are not guaranteed regular first-team starts as speculation mounts over their future.

Rashford has started just 30 of the 70 Premier League games under Mourinho, while Martial appears to have dropped down the pecking order since the arrival of Alex Sanchez in the January transfer window. He has failed to complete a full 90 minutes in the Premier League since mid-February.

That has led to speculation that either, or both, could seek a future away from the club and Mourinho could do little to console the pair about their limited opportunities.

"It is just football, we cannot have just 11 players," he said. "It would be amazing economically for the football clubs to have only 11 and play with the same 11, no injuries, no suspension, no fatigue.

"Only 11 can start so the same questions you are doing to me, you should do to every other manager because everyone has players in the same situation."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 15, 2018, with the headline 'Get the points to finish second: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe