Jose Mourinho has said that he will always prioritise winning trophies over finishing in the top four.
United saw their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-four Premier League finish extinguished once and for all as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
Jose Mourinho has prioritised winning the Europa League ahead of his side’s domestic exploits in recent weeks, though, and he claims that he had no choice but to focus on one competition due to United’s lengthy injury list.
“I am not upset because we had to make that decision. When people say we gamble, we didn’t gamble, we didn’t choose the Europa League – we had to do it. Because if I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, if I had these guys I can rotate, I can go for every match. When I have 14, 15 players, I can’t do it. It’s as simple as that. It is not possible to do it every three days,” he told reporters.
“With two matches in hand that we had to play later, it is impossible. We never had one occasion to rest, not even to train properly, so it was not a choice. We were pushed for that situation and even the [fixtures] draw… I never understood if it is a draw or if they put the data in the computer, but to finish the season with four matches away from home – Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City – if we were fighting for the title, what a way to fight for the title.
“If we want to try and get some results and protect players, which matches to protect players? I cannot go to Manchester City or Arsenal and put out five kids at the same time altogether. I cannot lose 5-0 or 6-0. So it’s difficult but we know what we are doing and I don’t know other clubs, I don’t know the way they think, I don’t know what is important for them. We, Manchester United, for us it is more important to win titles than to finish top four.
“So if we can win a third title, or like you like to say a second title, if we can do that it would be magnificent for us because we know that it’s a big objective. We know that if we lose the final we don’t play Champions League. We know that. 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 and fight for the title.”
United take on Southampton and Crystal Palace in their final two domestic games of the campaign before facing Ajax in the Europa League final on May 24.