United Among Favorites to Win Europa League, Says Jose Mourinho

  Jose Mourinho leads his Tottenham Hotspur side into a Europa League home clash with Royal Antwerp (team news, match preview, starting XI p...

 

Jose Mourinho leads his Tottenham Hotspur side into a Europa League home clash with Royal Antwerp (team news, match preview, starting XI prediction here) later this evening. Spurs have already qualified for the knockout round, but they need a win to ensure they finish first in the Group J standings.

Mourinho’s most recent former team, Manchester United, crashed out of the Champions League last night, and will now join Spurs and Arsenal as Premier League clubs in the UEL round of 32.

Jose Mourinho leads his Tottenham Hotspur side into a Europa League home clash with Royal Antwerp (team news, match preview, starting XI prediction here) later this evening. Spurs have already qualified for the knockout round, but they need a win to ensure they finish first in the Group J standings.

Mourinho’s most recent former team, Manchester United, crashed out of the Champions League last night, and will now join Spurs and Arsenal as Premier League clubs in the UEL round of 32.

Mourinho says his former club is now among the favorites to win the tournament, although he maintains his position that UCL teams should not be allowed to compete in the UEL once they are eliminated from the more important tournament.

“I’m happy with [my] record because it meant my clubs were always in a position of progressing, economically important but also for the prestige,” said Mourinho at his pre Antwerp news conference yesterday.

“Sometimes, more difficult than others. For example, at United, when we lost at home against Juventus, we had to go to Turin and win there to then qualify from a very difficult group, also with Valencia. And of course now Manchester United become one of the top favourites to win the competition.

“The teams that drop from the Champions League and always strong, normally they don’t belong to that level of Europa league competitions and of course Manchester United is one of the top teams.”

Mourinho won the Europa League with United in 2016-17, the club’s first ever trophy in that competition. In every season that he has competed in the Champions League competition, Mourinho has guided his side to at least the knockout round.

He is still against the rule that allows seven third place teams from the Champions League to drop down, once eliminated, and join the Europa tournament, once the group stages are completed and the knockout round begins.

“It is a point of principle and if it happened to my team, I would feel exactly the same. It is the way it is and honestly, brings more quality to the competition. We cannot forget that,” Mourinho continued.

“When you have eight new teams in the competition and eight teams that belong to another level and they drop to the Europa League, of course the level of the competition is going to improve, no doubts. And when the quality improves, the attention improves.

“It is a good thing for the competition, but by the sports point of view is where I think it is not fair. That a team doesn’t succeed in one competition drops to another. It is the same thing as imagining the third team in the Europa League, instead of finishing, goes to a third competition in the hierarchy of European football.

“It is just a principle. In football, when for some reason we don’t succeed, unlucky, next season. But it is what it is and its not a problem for me.”

Everyone in the football world seems to have a strong opinion on United’s crashing out of the big European competition and now being relegated to the smaller one last night. Club legend Paul Scholes was highly critical of Red Devils goalkeeper David de Gea.

Additionally, Scholes and fellow club legend Rio Ferdinand were in agreement about how manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have shuffled around his defenders. Yesterday marked the first time that United have ever played three different left backs in a Champions League match.

Between Luke Shaw, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams, they just couldn’t get it right. The team was also distracted by agent Mino Raiola saying publicly on Monday that his client, Paul Pogba’s time with the club is over, and he won’t re-sign.

It was awful timing, as United faced their biggest match of the season, and Solskjaer tried hard to motivate his side, but obviously failed. 







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