Jose Mourinho won’t be too disappointed by Manchester United’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon.
The Portuguese has placed increasing priority on the Europa League in recent months. And when United reached the final of the tournament on Thursday, the Premier League was always going to take a backseat.
Mourinho rested Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as his side travelled to White Hart Lane. United fell to a 2-1 defeat, ending their chances of finishing in the top four.
Anthony Martial’s assist for Wayne Rooney’s goal was impressive but there were no standout players in a red shirt. Yet that really didn’t bother Mourinho.
The United boss, rather bizarrely, insisted it was “fine” that his team played with “no concentration, no focus.”
“I make that a team in the maximum of its potential, with motivation to win the last match at home,” he told Sky Sports in his post-match interview.
“And another team trying to find some balance even with players not in their best position, to give minutes to the people that need minutes and to protect the people that needed to be protected.
“The two goals are two very bad goals conceded, but the team had … no experience together, played with no concentration, no focus. That’s fine with me.”
Balancing European football with domestic action is no easy feat. Look at Chelsea, who cruised to the Premier League title without the distraction.
Mourinho will be heavily criticised if United lose to Ajax on May 24 in Stockholm, but you can see why he ultimately gave up on the top four.
“When people say we gambled by going to the Europa League, we didn’t gamble,” he added. “Nobody can play two big competitions with 15 players, which is what we have at this time. What we did was compulsory.
“I’m happy with the situation. No injuries, and one last match to play. Because at this moment the Premier League for us is just matches we don’t want to play.”
Mourinho was happy to talk about his team selection but when the interview turned to United’s chances of challenging for the title next season, he got a little ratty.
“What do you think you need for next season to mount a serious challenge?” Geoff Shreeves asked the former Chelsea boss.
“I don’t want to think about it, in this moment,” Mourinho replied. “I want to think about the final,” before walking out.
Check it out below.
Four of Man United’s five Premier League losses this season have been in games played on a Sunday immediately after a European match.
And just like the defeat by Arsenal last weekend, a much-changed Mourinho starting XI put in an average performance in north London.
Martial looked lively in attack but could only curl his best effort wide of the post in the first half.
The Frenchman instigated his side’s goal by ghosting past Kieran Trippier before picking out Rooney, who tapped in from close range.
Substitute Marcus Rashford went close at the death, but it proved to be too little too late for the visitors.
United’s focus is firmly on winning the Europa League title – they face Ajax on 24 May.