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04th May 2017

These quotes show just how much Jose Mourinho has changed his tune about the Europa League

Fair enough, to be honest

JOE

Days on from another draw at home in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho appears to have put all his Champions League eggs in one Europa League basket.

Despite Liverpool’s best attempts to give United a chance of a top-four finish, the 1-1 draw with Swansea, coupled with a win at Watford for Jürgen Klopp’s men, seems to have finally ended such hopes.

Fortunately, a win in the Europa League would also be enough to ensure that United return to Europe’s premier cup competition next season, regardless of where they finish in the league. With this in mind, Jose Mourinho used the press conference ahead of the first leg of their semifinal against Celta Vigo to talk up what an achievement a Europa League win would be. The United boss said: “It would be a good achievement given the problems this season and would allow us to be back in the Champions League next season, so the Europa League has now become for us more important.”

As pointed out by many in the time since the press conference, Mourinho’s recent assessment of the importance of the Europa League is a far cry from what he was saying about the competition at the start of the season.

“It [the Europa League] is not a competition that Man United wants,” he said ahead of their opening match against Feyenoord last September.  “It is not one I want or the players but it is a competition where we are and that is the reality.”

Mourinho has made it perfectly clear in recent weeks that he feels a congested fixture list has contributed to a number of injuries picked up by his players. Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw will no play again this season, United have been boosted by the return to training of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Paul Pogba ahead of the match in Vigo. Eric Bailly, who was injured during the draw with Swansea at the weekend, also returns for the game.