Monday 19 February 2018

Jose Mourinho concedes Premier League title and sets new target for Manchester United

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has declared he is now aiming to be "the first of the last", as he set his sights on finishing second in the Premier League.

After a comprehensive 2-0 defeat against Tottenham at Wembley on Wednesday night, Mourinho admits United now have no chance of catching runaway title leaders Manchester City, as he tried to paint an upbeat vision of his side's Premier League ambitions ahead of Saturday's game against Huddersfield at Old Trafford.

"The game is important because we need points to be the first of the last," said Mourinho. "We have to try to finish second. We are in this position all season, we were first for a few weeks and then we were always second.

"I don't remember us being fourth, fifth or sixth. We have been there since the beginning of the season, better than last season in every aspect - points, position, number of goals scored, number of goals conceded, better in everything.

"So we have to try to stay there and it's not easy, because there are very good teams around us. Chelsea are champions again, and a had a fantastic market, Liverpool are a great team, Arsenal improved a lot in the market.

"Tottenham are a fantastic team and are five points behind us, so we're doing quite well, with some negative moments…Wednesday was one. It's very important to do better than last season and try to win something and, if not, do better."

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Mourinho went on to pour praise on Manchester City, as he admitted Pep Guardiola's side have not given their rivals a chance to get back into the title race.

"They are doing so, so well in that they are not letting the others come close to them, it's as simple as that," added Mourinho.

"With the number of points and improvement in relation to last season, the distance would be a distance that leaves the fight open, and the fight is open for second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, but is practically closed for the first.

"I cannot say, we, Tottenham or Chelsea is doing badly, because the points we have are very reasonable but City started strong and kept doing strong and managed to win matches they didn't deserve with that last push of the last minute goal, the winning goal in extra time, they managed to do that in a way where that's the distance.

"If you tell me all six want to be champions and only one will be and the other five fail, I think is too pragmatic a way to look at it, because you can do positive work and not win the title."

Mourinho gave no update on rumours suggesting striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on the brink of moving to LA Galaxy, but he admitted the Swedish striker is ‘not close' to a first team return after his latest injury problem.

Meanwhile, he confirmed that midfielder Maraoune Fellaini is set to be out for an extended period after suffering knee ligament damage against Tottenham at Wembley.

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