Jose Mourinho eyeing positive attitude over points as he shifts Manchester United focus on to Europa League final

They are at Southampton this week before entertaining Crystal Palace next Sunday. Mourinho claimed that fixture congestion and injuries made this the hardest he has ever worked.

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho has declared ahead of Manchester United’s last two league fixtures of the season that he is no longer concerned about collecting points.

It is now mathematically impossible for United to clinch a top four position and Mourinho, who has staked United’s season on next week’s Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, said that a “positive attitude” is what he is looking for rather than finishing the domestic season on a high.

In what is likely to be a common refrain ahead of the Ajax match in the Swedish capital’s Friends Arena, the manager said that the Dutch side had a competitive advantage because their season had already finished – while United’s still goes on. The side are at Southampton on Wednesday night, before entertaining Crystal Palace next Sunday. Mourinho claimed that fixture congestion and injuries made this the hardest he has ever worked.

“A final is a final and we have to go to the final with everything like Ajax does because they have finished the season and they do not any more football to play until the football,” Mourinho said.

Asked if it was vital to get points in the next two games, Mourinho said: “No, what I want for the players is a good attitude, is a positive attitude, a positive approach, is team spirit, is understanding that some guys they have to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.”

United will not have Paul Pogba available against Claude Puel’s Southampton because the player is in France, attending his father’s funeral – but Mourinho said that was only part of a larger problem.

“The accumulation of the games, I never had that,” he said. “You know that in all of my career I was never out of European competitions in the group phases -  and in the last 16 I was out only once. I reached [European] semi-finals ten times. I go always until the end of the competitions. In the League Cup I normally go far. But I never have I had anything like this. I never have. This is crazy.”  

He said it was a blessing that his side were knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter- final stage  by Chelsea, because of what he claims are a refereeing error. “Thank you [referee] Michael Oliver,” he said. “Because we were out in the FA Cup. Because if we go to the FA Cup semi-finals it would be a total disaster. I don’t know when we would be playing that game.

“I never, ever have had a situation like this and on top of that the accumulation of big injuries, not small, not the injuries that you say ‘ok, hamstring, two weeks’. No. It’s surgery, boom, boom. It’s surgery – one knee, another knee. Another foot. Just big surgeries. So fewer players and fewer players and fewer players. It’s very difficult, really very difficult. But we are there and we go to the [Europa League] final.”

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