Jose Mourinho has insisted that if Manchester United do not qualify for next season’s Champions League it is because they do not belong in the competition.
United can book a place in Europe’s top club competition if they win the Europa League this season. There is still an outside chance they could also finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Mourinho has bemoaned a lengthy injury list during the final weeks of the season.
But ahead of the Europa League semifinal second leg against Celta Vigo, the United manager says they will have to face up to a harsh reality if they cannot book a return to the Champions League.
“If we don’t qualify for the Champions League, it is because we are not good enough,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.
“For the prestige and the finance, Champions League is Champions League. For myself and the players, Champions League is Champions League.
“If you are not there, it is because you are not good enough. If we do not go to the final, if we play in the Europa League next season, it is because we are not good enough.
“If we win, then it means we are strong enough to go to the final. The Champions League is the competition we want to be in. I want to focus on where we are. Nobody has more motivation than I have to try to win.”
Mourinho threw in the towel in the race for the top four following the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. It left United four points adrift of fourth place with three games to go.
They have repeatedly missed chances to break into the Champions League places this season, drawing 14 games in the league.
Mourinho hinted he has struggled to motivate his players to fight for the runners-up positions in the Premier League. But he insists that should not be a problem in the Europa League.
He added: “It’s different to play for top four than to play to win a European competition. The difference between fourth and fifth and sixth, it’s fighting for Champions League, but no trophy, no honour, no prestige.
“Fighting for a title and on top of it the bonus of playing in the Champions League. But at the moment, we think about the title, the chance to play in the European Super Cup against a top team, and all these things, give no space to complacency.”
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