Jose Mourinho digs into his old book of mind-games with swipe at his former club as he insists it’s ‘NOT FAIR’ that Man United’s failure is rewarded with a Europa League place – because they belong in ‘another level’ to Tottenham
Jose Mourinho insists it is wrong to invite Manchester United and other teams who fail in the Champions League to join the Europa League.
United lost in Leipzig on Tuesday to finish third in their group, and now drop into UEFA’s second-tier competition at the last 32 stage.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be among the favourites to lift the trophy according to Mourinho, who must ensure his Tottenham side beat Royal Antwerp to win Group J and avoid the other group winners and Champions League drop-outs in the next round.
Jose Mourinho insists Champions League teams shouldn’t drop into the Europa League
‘It’s a point of principle,’ said Mourinho. ‘If it happened to my team, I would feel exactly the same. In football, when for some reason we don’t succeed, unlucky, next season. It is the way it is, but it’s not a problem.
‘It brings more quality to the competition. We cannot forget that. When you have eight new teams in the competition that belong to another level, of course the level of the competition is going to improve.
‘When the quality improves, the attention improves. That is a good thing for the competition, but from the sporting point of view it’s not fair that a team that doesn’t succeed in one competition drops to another.’
Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League on Wednesday evening
They failed to reach the knockout stages after failing to get a point in their last two games
Spurs cannot be drawn against another English team in the Europa League until the last-16.
‘Manchester United become one of the top favourites,’ said Mourinho of his former club. ‘The teams that drop from the Champions League are always strong teams — teams that normally don’t belong to that level of the Europa League.
‘Manchester United are one of the top teams. Their group was very hard: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Leipzig, very hard. We all knew it was not going to be easy for any one of them and that from that group a top team would drop to the Europa League.’
It’s not the first time this season Mourinho has used mind-games to deflect pressure
Mourinho also couldn’t resist a few digs ahead of his clash with arch-rival Pep Guardiola
Tottenham have spluttered through the group stage. They were held to a draw last week by LASK in Austria and lost in Antwerp, and the Belgians will win Group J if they avoid defeat at White Hart Lane.
Mourinho said: ‘Maybe there’s a sense some players think, “I’m playing this match but I should be playing against Arsenal or Chelsea”, and instead of facing the game really professionally and saying, “This is my game… I have to perform”, there is a little bit of relaxation.
‘But in the end, no drama because we did good enough to qualify and hopefully we’ll win the game and finish first.’
Tottenham lost in Antwerp and the Belgians will win Group J if they avoid defeat on Thursday