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Post Match Comments: Mourinho doesn’t want to play Premier League games!

Irrespective of whether they matter or not, Manchester United’s league results keep getting worse. United have now lost more matches in last eight days than they lost in the previous six months. One big influencing factor is obviously the Europa League final which is scheduled in just over a week’s time. But does the losses not affect the team morale or dressing room environment? If it does, will the team recover to be ready and be in a correct state of mind for the Final and if it does not, should that be a worry? Losing a game should never feel OK, no matter how irrelevant the game is. United started the game off so slow that it almost felt like a pre-season game.

Two quick goals on either side of the halves were enough to keep United at bay and get Tottenham through in the final game at White Hart Lane. United looked rusty and disinterested for the major part of the game and it only improved when the usual first-teamers were introduced on the pitch. Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan improved United’s attacking threat by some degrees although, in the end, it was not enough. Before them, it was only Anthony Martial who looked effective but was not involved as much as he would have liked too, majorly due to poor midfield performance. But as soon as the starting XI was announced it was abundantly clear that the key players are rested and protected for the Europa final, which resulted in an unbalanced squad with the likes of Phil Jones set up to play in the midfield. What followed was hence not a surprise. Jose Mourinho while speaking after the game confirmed it.

“Tottenham were a team at the maximum of their potential, with all players, with all the motivation to win the last match at home. We were simply trying to find balance, even with some players not in their best position, trying to organise a team to give minutes to people who need minutes and protecting people who needed to be protected.”

The substitutions in the second half improved the team balance and hence the performance too.

“After 2-0 we were brought some balance to the team because we put players in the right positions, the team improved a lot, we had 2-1, could have had 2-2 I am fine with individual performances. the two goals are bad to concede but the team is not used to playing together.”

Mourinho also shed some light on his thinking behind making Europa his priority.

“We didn’t gamble with the Europa League. Not many people can play two competitions with 15 players and that is what we had at the time. What we did was compulsory. I am happy with the situation today.

“The ones who needed to play did 90 mins, I rested some and no injuries and one less match to play.”

With his statements, it almost feels as if Mourinho is using the remaining league matches as a pre-season for the Europa League final.

“At the moment, the Premier League matches are the ones we don’t want to play.

“I don’t want to think about next season – I want to think about the final we have to play in.”

It is important for the team to be in the right mental state while going in to the final and Daley Blind asserted that they know what is at stake with that one game.

“It wasn’t enough, they were more dominant and scored from set plays and we have to be sharp on that.

We have to move on to next game. We need to finish the season as strong as possible. We know the [Europa League] final is a big match and I don’t want to talk about that yet. We know what is at stake and we will be prepared.”

It was quite a special game for all the Tottenham supporters and team but Wayne Rooney treated it as just another game.

“To be honest it’s another game against Tottenham. It was special for their players and fans but for us it was another game at White Hart Lane.

“We wanted to win the game, we went out and tried to win the game. Tottenham played well but we could have done better.

“White Hart Lane always was one of my favourite grounds to play at. I have good memories here.”

United are still to travel to Southampton and then host Crystal Palace to bring the curtains on their season. One would expect similar teams in both the fixtures, especially the Crystal Palace game. With the final to be played only in three days time after the Palace game, Mourinho will bring in a lot of youngsters from the youth team, as he said a few weeks back.

“We could be playing the final with disastrous consequences.

“Maybe I will bring Nicky Butt and his team to play against Crystal Palace. And hopefully Palace doesn’t need to stay in the ­division, ­because it would be very bad if they needed the points and we played our Under-23s.”

So both the games will only be a pit stop to get to the final lap that the Europa League final is. Hopefully United get to the checkered flag first which would make this season a lot more meaningful because a 5th or 6th finish in the league can only be ignored if United end up with another trophy with a Champions League qualification. It is the only thing that can salvage what has been an underwhelming season for Mourinho and his team at United.

Written by Chinmay Padhye

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