Jose Mourinho still claims Manchester United can reach top four despite ‘miracle’ jibe

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Mourinho has once again created a stir at Old Trafford, though he insists United can get to the top four by the end of the season. (AFP)
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Updated 04 December 2018
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Jose Mourinho still claims Manchester United can reach top four despite ‘miracle’ jibe

  • Portuguese boss does not deny he said it would take a 'miracle' for his side to get into the Champions League spots.
  • The Reds face an in-form Arsenal at home on Wednesday.

MANCHESTER: Jose Mourinho has played down comments he made to Brazilian TV saying it would be a “miracle” if Manchester Untied finished in the Premier League top four this season.
Recent draws have seen the Reds all to seventh in the table, some eight points off the Champions League spots.
But Mourinho is adamant he still sees a top-four finish in May as realistic, despite not denying the comments he made to a Brazilian television interviewer after Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton.
“I don’t know if I said it or if I didn’t but if I used that word, it is not what I feel at all,” said Mourinho at his press conference on the eve of their match with in-form Arsenal.
“I don’t think we need a miracle at all. We need a good run of results. We need to not waste points that we shouldn’t waste.”
Mourinho had set his players the challenge of reaching the top four by the end of December when they returned from the November international break to begin a run of eight league fixtures in the run-up to the New Year.
Mourinho, who reportedly clashed again with French World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba after the 2-2 draw with Southampton, said if some players performed better they could stay in touch with the top four and then finish in the Champions League spots at the end of the campaign.
“Last week, before the Crystal Palace game, I said what my hopes and targets were, at the end of December, to be in that position,” he said.
“The target changed but let’s try to close the distance as best as we can and be very close to these positions.
“We need some players to perform better than they are. We need to perform better as a team, but it would be far from a miracle.”

Manchester United have found the going tough so far this season, they currently lie in seventh place, eight points off the top four. 

United started the week eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who are unbeaten in 19 league and cup games as they visit Old Trafford.
Mourinho agrees that seventh place is not good enough for a club of United’s stature.
Mourinho agreed it was unacceptable to be below Everton in the standings.
“I can agree, in spite of the fact that the investment Everton made was phenomenal and obviously there was a great improvement in that team from last season in relation to this,” he said.
“But I don’t think Everton will be in front of Manchester United at the end of the season.
“There are six teams that should stay in the first six positions, season after season two of these teams are finishing outside the top four.
“For example, last season it was Arsenal and Chelsea. And this season two of these six are going to stay outside.”
Mourinho suggested Arsenal’s good league form may have been aided by manager Unai Emery resting a number of his senior players for their Europa League matches.
“It will be a very difficult match for us because we are going to play against a good team in a good moment without having faced a backlog of matches because they are playing in the Europa League,” said Mourinho.
“When you play in the Europa League, you normally play with second choices and give good rest to the players.”


Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

Updated 23 March 2019
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Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

SHARJAH: Aaron Finch's fine century drove Australia to a convincing eight-wicket win over a new-look Pakistan in the first one-day international on Friday.
The Austraian skipper scored 116 off 135 balls for his 12th one-day international century that helped his team overhaul the 281-run target in 49 overs on a flat Sharjah stadium pitch.
The win gives Australia the lead in the five-match series and has come on the back of their 3-2 series win in India earlier this month.
Finch's match-winning knock overshadowed Haris Sohail's maiden one-day hundred (101 not out) which helped Pakistan to 280-5 in their 50 overs.
The 32-year-old smashed Shoaib Malik for a huge six towards deep mid-wicket to complete his century -- his first since June last year against England at Chester-Le-Street -- off 120 balls.
Finch, who knocked four sixes and eight boundaries, added an innings-building 172 runs for the second wicket with Shaun Marsh who scored an unbeaten 91 off 102 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
With 46 needed Finch became Mohammad Abbas's maiden wicket but Peter Handscomb hit 30 not out to help Marsh cross the line.
Finch and Marsh came together after opener Usman Khawaja fell for 24 to medium pacer Faheem Ashraf, the only other success Pakistan's new-look bowling attack could achieve.
Pakistan rested six of their key players including regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in order to keep them fresh for the World Cup starting in UK from May 30.
But the young and inexperienced Pakistan led by Malik proved no match for Australia, who are on a roll after their win in India earlier this month.
Left-hander Sohail, who reached 1,000 runs in his 27th one-day international when on 40, anchored Pakistan's innings, adding 98 for the third wicket with Umar Akmal who made a 50-ball 48 in his first international match for two years.
Sohail took a single to complete his hundred in the last over, finishing with six boundaries and a six.
Pakistan had handed one-day debuts to opener Shan Masood and Abbas -- who have played 15 and 14 Tests respectively.
Masood put on 35 in an opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq (17) before off-spinner Nathan Lyon dismissed Imam in the seventh over, caught and bowled.
Masood, who hit five boundaries in his 62-ball 40, was then bowled by paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile who finished with 1-38 in his 10 overs.
Umar smashed three sixes in one Jhye Richardson over but fell one short of his half century.
Malik fell for 11 and Ashraf and Imad Wasim scored 28 each.
Wasim hit four boundaries and a six during his 13-ball unbeaten knock, helping Pakistan to 55 runs in the last five overs.
Sunday's second ODI is also being played in Sharjah, with the third in Abu Dhabi (March 27) and the last two in Dubai (March 29 and 31).