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

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.”


Vardy hits double in Leicester’s 8th straight victory

Updated 09 December 2019

Vardy hits double in Leicester’s 8th straight victory

  • Leicester takes the second-place team within eight points of Liverpool

BIRMINGHAM: Jamie Vardy scored for an eighth straight game for Premier League high-flyer Leicester on Sunday with a double in a 4-1 dismantling of Aston Villa.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans also scored to help Leicester set a new club record of eight consecutive top-flight wins and take the second-place team within eight points of Liverpool.

Jack Grealish did make it 2-1 just before the break but the Foxes were rarely in danger.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are 14 points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the pursuit of Champions League qualification.

“We are up there, we are challenging and playing well,” Evans told broadcaster Sky Sports. “Probably now, today, I think people are starting to talk more about that.

“Coming away from Villa with a really good performance, I think that’s the best Villa team we have played against for quite a while and we had to grind it out and it shows we are capable of getting good results.”

By contrast, Villa is only out of the relegation zone on goal difference after slipping to a fifth defeat in seven games.

Villa was wide open and Leicester should have taken the lead after 10 minutes.

Caglar Soyuncu knocked James Maddison’s deep free-kick back for Evans, who could only shoot straight at goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Immediately, Villa broke to spurn their own golden chance when Matt Targett crossed for Anwar El Ghazi to hit the bar from six yards. With the chance went Villa’s early hopes and they swiftly lost any grip of the game when Vardy continued his scoring streak in the 20th minute.

Wesley lost the ball and the lively Iheanacho slipped the striker in to race clear and round Heaton. Vardy miscued his kick when preparing to shoot but recovered to tap in, despite Konsa’s efforts on the line.

Vardy is now just three games away from equalling his own Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games.

Villa’s problems were partly of their own making with center back Tyrone Mings unable to cover having already suffered a hamstring injury and the defender was immediately replaced by Bjorn Engels.

Villa could not handle Vardy’s pace and Iheanacho’s movement.

There was a touch of fortune but Leicester deserved to double its lead in the 41st when Maddison crossed and Iheanacho diverted in at the near post.

The Foxes were cruising but Grealish pulled a goal back in first-half injury time when he curled in from 16 yards after the visitors failed to clear a corner.

Leicester, though, wasted no time in restoring their two-goal lead four minutes after the break.