Mourinho admits top four by end of year is improbable

Jose Mourinho has acknowledged Manchester United are unlikely to meet his target of climbing into the Premier League’s top four by the end of 2018.

However, the United manager has played down comments he made to Brazilian television suggesting that it would be a “miracle” if his team finished in the Champions League qualification places at the end of the season.

Mourinho set his players the challenge of reaching the top four by the end of December when they returned from the November international break to begin a run of eight league fixtures in the run-up to the New Year.

However, successive draws against Crystal Palace and Southampton, in which United produced below-par performances, has seen them slip to seventh and forced the manager to reassess that target.

Mourinho, though, is adamant he still sees a top-four finish in May as realistic, despite not denying the comments he made to a Brazilian television interviewer after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton.

“I don’t know if I said it or if I didn’t but if I used that word, it is not what I feel at all,” said Mourinho at his press conference on the eve of their match with in-form Arsenal.

“We are eight or nine points from fourth, something like that.

“I don’t think we need a miracle at all. We need a good run of results. We need to not waste points that we shouldn’t waste.”

‘Need to perform better’

Mourinho, who reportedly clashed again with French World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba after the 2-2 draw with Southampton, said if some players performed better they could stay in touch with the top four and then finish in the Champions League spots at the end of the campaign.

READ MORE: Why is Mourinho so desperate to get sacked?

“Last week, before the Crystal Palace game, I said what my hopes and targets were, at the end of December, to be in that position,” he said.

“The target changed but let’s try to close the distance as best as we can and be very close to these positions.

“We need some players to perform better than they are. We need to perform better as a team, but it would be far from a miracle.”

United started the week eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who are unbeaten in 19 league and cup games as they visit Old Trafford.

Mourinho agrees that seventh place is not good enough for a club of United’s stature.

Mourinho agreed it was unacceptable to be below Everton in the standings.

“I can agree, in spite of the fact that the investment Everton made was phenomenal and obviously there was a great improvement in that team from last season in relation to this,” he said.

“But I don’t think Everton will be in front of Manchester United at the end of the season.

“There are six teams that should stay in the first six positions, season after season two of these teams are finishing outside the top four.

“For example, last season it was Arsenal and Chelsea. And this season two of these six are going to stay outside.”

Mourinho suggested Arsenal’s good league form may have been aided by manager Unai Emery resting a number of his senior players for their Europa League matches.

“It will be a very difficult match for us because we are going to play against a good team in a good moment without having faced a backlog of matches because they are playing in the Europa League,” said Mourinho.

“When you play in the Europa League, you normally play with second choices and give good rest to the players.”

© Agence France-Presse

Mike Whalley
Mike Whalley
Freelance journalist and sub-editor. I have interviewed Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Daniels, co-hosted a football phone-in on the night there were no callers and had a comedy sketch about an animal-free zoo broadcast on Radio 4.
Advertisting

Senior SANDF colonel involved in an alleged business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

AU pushes the frontiers of transitional justice

Now these important policy developments must be implemented

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.