Mourinho says United can only finish fifth or sixth

| 13th May 2017

Mourinho says United can only finish fifth or sixth

Jose Mourinho has provided an update on the latest team news ahead of Manchester United’s Premier League trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

The Reds will take part in the last match at Spurs’ current home on what is sure to be an emotional occasion for the north London club and, after progress to the Europa League final against Ajax was assured on Thursday, the boss will be shuffling his pack and prioritising the big game in Stockholm on 24 May.

With Mourinho confirming Sergio Romero is set to retain his place in Europe, David De Gea looks a certainty to keep goal at White Hart Lane with Eric Bailly also due to start as he will miss the final through suspension.

Axel Tuanzebe is likely to come back into the reckoning after his assured Premier League debut at Spurs’ rivals Arsenal last weekend while Juan Mata is an option in midfield after being carefully eased back into action after a groin operation.

When asked about the upcoming matches against Spurs and Southampton and whether he would treat them the same as the final-day encounter with Crystal Palace in terms of making changes, the manager replied: “I approach these games the same. I have to give some minutes to everyone because we only have 15 players. We don’t have more. We only have 15 so I have to play them but I have to play them in a mixed way and by periods.

“I don’t have another solution. In the Premier League, we can only finish fifth or sixth. I don’t think we can finish seventh or we can finish fourth so it’s fifth or sixth and we can win a trophy. By winning that trophy, we can play in the Champions League next season so that’s the game but, obviously, like we did against Arsenal, we didn’t throw the match away.

“We played and we tried to win. We gave a difficult match to our opponents and had chances to get a different result. It’s what we are going to do. We are not going say matches are not important – they are important. But we have one that is more important than others. The match on Sunday is important for us too.”

On the topic of Bailly’s red card and suspension for the Europa League final, Mourinho reiterated in his post-match press conference: “I don’t know about it [the incident against Celta Vigo]. I didn’t see it. I don’t want to see it now, maybe tomorrow, but even if it was unfair, I don’t think the UEFA rules will allow any chance of an appeal. So I don’t think he plays in the final. If he doesn’t play in the final, he has to play the remaining matches in the Premier League and give rest to some of the others.”

United face a tough assignment against a Spurs side aiming to go the whole Premier League season unbeaten at home for the first time, while three of the Reds’ four defeats in the division this term have been on a Sunday after a Europa League tie on the Thursday. However, with cup final places now up for grabs, there will still be plenty of incentive for the Reds on duty to impress.