Social media came alive ahead of Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea when the team was announced. With top goalscorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, left out of the team and players like Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini starting, lots of United fans were left wondering what Jose Mourinho was playing at.
With an important game against Anderlecht on Thursday, other fans resigned themselves to Mourinho prioritising the Europa League.
However, after the game, Mourinho suggested that maybe he hadn’t rested players, rather chose the starting team that he thought was best to get the job done, after we had controlled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup before Ander Herrera was wrongly sent off.
Maybe we didn’t rest. Maybe we just chose the team that we thought was the best team.
We went to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup with same tactics and the game was totally controlled when we played with 11 players. Only the decision that made us play with 10 men for the second half, plus some minutes in the first half, gave Chelsea a chance to be dominant, but we knew that if we played this way then it would be very difficult for them.
Our best chance of playing in the Champions League next season may be winning the Europa League but Mourinho, who was spotted again tapping the Manchester United badge as he walked off the pitch, insists that he has not given up on finishing in the top four.
I think everyone did what they had to do. Everybody fought really hard. Bailly and Rojo, I think they deserve a special mention because they have played in absolutely every game, non-stop, since the injuries of Smalling and Jones. But I am really happy with the team and the results, because the Manchester City and Liverpool results left us in the position of needing to win. Not even a draw would be a good result for us, so I am really happy for the boys and for us because we keep two windows open to try to play Champions League football.
I cannot yet give up the Premier League. We have to try and if one day we are in the Europa League and in the Premier League the distance is too big, then we have to prioritise and nobody can criticise us if in the last matches of the league we do it in a different way. But while it is mathematically possible, we have to go with everything we have.