Sport Soccer

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Jones urging 'one more big push' from Manchester United in Europa League final

Angel Gomes made his Manchester United debut in the win over Crystal Palace
Angel Gomes made his Manchester United debut in the win over Crystal Palace

Phil Jones has stressed Manchester United have "no God-given right" to win Wednesday's Europa League final against Ajax and must approach the game in the correct manner.

United are widely regarded as the favourites to emerge from the contest at Stockholm's Friends Arena with the trophy and the Champions League place that comes with it.

And Red Devils defender Jones has sounded a warning against complacency ahead of the "huge" match.

The 25-year-old said: "We've got a huge game on Wednesday that we need to prepare right for.

"We need to go out and do a job.

"We know Champions League football is the end goal, but we need to earn the right to be in the Champions League by winning on Wednesday night.

"We've no God-given right to win the Europa League.

"We deserve to be in the final, but we have to show up and prove we are good enough, and that's what we will do.

"I can understand the lads' tiredness, we've had a lot of games. But we need to give it one more big push on Wednesday night."

At the end of a season in which Jose Mourinho's United have won the EFL Cup and come sixth in the Premier League, Wednesday's match is being billed as make-or-break for their 2016-17.

Asked if it was the case that victory against Ajax would mean it had been a successful season for United and defeat would mean it had not, Jones said: "In a nutshell, probably.

"It's a defining moment in our season and we need to make sure we win the game. We want Champions League football."

Jones is ready to play a part in the game after Sunday's 2-0 league victory over Crystal Palace marked his fourth appearance since returning to action following a foot injury.

It appeared there might be some tension between Mourinho and Jones when the manager last month publicly urged the player to "be brave" and take a risk in terms of his recovery and making himself available for selection.

But Jones seems to have no problem with Mourinho, saying: "He's a great manager to work for.

"This season I've thoroughly enjoyed it under him. Even when I was out of the team at the start he always gave me confidence I would get in if I was training and playing well. He was true to his word.

"He always made me feel wanted and I owe him a lot for that."

With an eye on Wednesday's fixture, Mourinho rested numerous players on Sunday as United completed their domestic season with what was essentially a dead rubber against Palace.

The Portuguese named the youngest United team in Premier League history, with four players being handed full debuts in Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay and Josh Harrop.

Each of the young quartet fared well, with Harrop, 21, making a particularly strong impression by firing home a superb 15th-minute strike that was added to four minutes later by a Paul Pogba finish.

The closing stages of the contest then saw 16-year-old Angel Gomes come on to become the first player born this millennium to play in the top flight, and the youngest player to represent United in the Premier League.

Jones, who played the full duration of the game, felt the youngsters did a "terrific job", and added of Mourinho: "It's totally unfair - I don't get that at all when people say he doesn't bring youth through.

"He did it at Chelsea with the likes of Kurt Zouma, so it baffles me that one. He's done it (against Palace) - make no mistake, it's still a Premier League game, he has to show trust in those players.

"If he didn't think they were good enough they wouldn't be playing. He's shown great belief in them and they've proved him right."

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