Jose Mourinho has ruled out the prospect of Manchester United winning the Champions League this season.
The Portuguese’s side ensured their place at the top of Group A with a 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night, reaching their highest points total since their victorious 2007/08 campaign.
They will find out their opponent in the last 16 – who they will face at home in the second leg having won their group – on Monday.
And Mourinho, when asked about whether Man United could win the whole thing, was quick to temper expectations.
“At the start there were 32 teams and now there are just 16,” he said. “After the knock-outs, it’ll be just eight. Let’s see.”
“We are not candidates [to win the Champions League], far from it. There are very powerful teams who have great experience at this level.
“Let’s see how it goes but now we have lots of matches in English competitions and we can forget the Champions League for a couple of months.”
The most important game of United’s season was unquestionably their first – a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in August that could have been a whole lot worse.
It was a reminder of just how far United, whilst unquestionably heading in the right direction under their boss, were still some way off the standard needed to make a big splash on the continental stage. That pedigree, fusion, familiarity with the biggest of stages still wasn’t quite there.
And with the Italian, Spanish and German champions all possible opponents in the last 16, perhaps we ought to withhold from buying tickets to Kiev. At least for now.