Mourinho denies Man United need top four ‘miracle’

Joe Prince-Wright
NBC Sports

Jose Mourinho has responded to claims he told Brazilian TV that it would take a “miracle” for Manchester United to finish in the top four.

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United drew 2-2 at lowly Southampton on Saturday, which followed their 0-0 draw at home against Crystal Palace and a defeat to Manchester City in the Manchester Derby.

With United dropping plenty of points before their clash with in-form Arsenal on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho brushed off talk about his side already being out of the race for UEFA Champions League qualification even though he stated many times his team would be in the top four by January.

“Nah, I don’t know if I say or if I didn’t but if I used that word it is not what I feel at all,” Mourinho said. “I think we are eight or nine points from fourth, something like that, I don’t think we need a miracle at all. I think we need a good run of results. We don’t need to waste points where we shouldn’t waste. Before Crystal Palace, I said my target would be end of December in that position [top four]. Now the target has changed, to close the distance as much as we can. Now we have to try to be very close to these positions. We need to not be so unlucky with problems that we have. We need some players to perform.”

Mourinho also failed to respond to reports he has described Paul Pogba as a “virus” in his squad, while he also said that United would finish ahead of Everton and others and at least be in the top six at the end of the season. Mourinho added that he “can accept” that being in seventh isn’t good enough for United right now.

So, from being title contenders to a top four finish to now finishing above Everton. Mourinho’s tune has changed dramatically over the course of the season so far and despite their defensive injuries, he has a squad of players who should at the very least be in the top four.

Focusing on Arsenal and their recent run of 19 games unbeaten in all competitions, United’s manager was far from enthusiastic about the job Unai Emery is doing so far ahead of their clash at Old Trafford.

“Arsenal are different. They are a very good team with a good run of results without accumulation of matches because when you play in the Europa League you can rest some players,” Mourinho said. “Many teams pay the price of that. That is not the motivation you want as a club. It is a very difficult match for us and also for them, despite our problem with choices.”

He also added that he didn’t really want to talk about Arsenal: “I have my opinion, I keep that to myself.”

Okay, Jose, let us know when you’re ready to moan talk again…

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