Monday 23 September 2019

Jose Mourinho sends message to his 'lovers' after Manchester United reach Champions League last 16

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho throws a water bottle holder as he celebrates Manchester United's winner. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho throws a water bottle holder as he celebrates Manchester United's winner. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Mark Critchley

Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manager, sent a message to his “lovers” on Tuesday night after qualifying for the Champions League knock-out stages for the 14th consecutive season.

United laboured against Young Boys but Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time strike, combined with Valencia’s defeat at Juventus, ultimately sent them through to the latter rounds of the competition.

Mourinho has never suffered group stage elimination from the competition, qualifying for the knock-out stages in each of his 14 Champions League campaigns, and the United manager was keen to remind his critics of this record in his post-match press conference.

“First of all, let me send a message to my lovers and say I play Champions League 14 years and qualify 14 times. And the year where I didn’t play Champions League, I won the Europa League twice.

“So in 16 years, 14 times I qualify. Just a little curiosity for my ‘lovers’ and lovers of the stats. Realistically, to be in the last 16 in this group is an achievement, not a big one, not a fantastic one, but is an achievement

“There are better teams than us, teams with more quality, with more realistic ambitions, but I always say when the team arrives in the Champions League quarter-final, not the last 16, and goes over one knock-out phase and arrives in quarter-final, anything can happen.

“In this moment, we are going to finish second and get a team that won the group so we can have Barcelona, Real Madrid, I don’t know who else but for sure we can have Bayern Munich, the best teams in the world.”

United are two points behind Group H leaders Juventus and will expect to finish as group runners-up. The draw for the round of 16 takes place in Nyon on 17 December.

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