Jose Mourinho believes that Manchester United’s rivals would rather be in their position of being a win away from the Champions League than pushing for a top four finish.
Man United’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday confirmed that fifth place would be the highest they can finish in the Premier League this season with two games left.
They will claim an automatic spot in the Champions League group stage if they beat Ajax in the Europa League final on May 24.
And Mourinho, speaking after defeat at White Hart Lane, noted that claiming a trophy would eclipse finishing in the top four.
“I don’t know the way the other clubs think, I don’t know what is important for them,” he said. “At Manchester United, for us it’s more important to win titles than to finish top four. So if we can win a third title, or as you like to say, a second title, if we can do that it would be magnificent for us.”
“We know it’s a big objective, we know that if we lose the final we don’t play Champions League, we know that,” he said. “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 to fight for a title.”
United’s season hinges on 90 minutes in a neutral venue, against a side capable of doing damage to most teams in Europe. This is something of a terrifying prospect. Nine months of graft could boil down to a penalty shootout. I’m not sure my heart could take that.
But those determined to see Mourinho align with the club’s values should admire the Portuguese’s determination to deliver an actual trophy, rather than a top four trophy, to Old Trafford. United’s golden era was, of course, characterised by wins of this sort, and nobody can deny that winning a European competition eclipses finishing fourth by some distance.