Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho keen to enhance his Euro record with Man United

By Jack Austin

Jose Mourinho has admitted he misses playing in the Champions League because it means he is unable to add to his "incredible" number of games managed in the competition.

The former Chelsea boss has taken charge of 127 Champions League games and is the youngest coach to manage over 100 games in Europe's premier competition.

However, Manchester United's absence this season means Mourinho cannot add to his tally and the Portuguese is determined to change that for the next campaign, be it through finishing in the top four or winning the Europa League.

"Personally, I miss the Champions League," said Mourinho. "Every match I don't play in the Champions League means an incredible number of matches is not going up.

"I'm the youngest coach to be in the club of 100 (Champions League games). Every time I don't play, I'm not happy.

"But obviously United is much more important than me and my individual targets. What matters is United and as everyone knows, United is a club that belongs in the Champions League.

"We shall do everything possible to make sure we're in the Champions League next season. We have two chances to be there.

"One is by winning the Europa League, the other is by finishing in the top four. Both achievable, both difficult, but we're going to work hard for that."

United's push for the top four recommences this evening with the visit of Hull to Old Trafford, but one player that is looking increasingly unlikely to play a large part in that is Anthony Martial.

Mourinho said that Martial would keep his place from the weekend's game against Wigan if he was "unbelievable", but confirmed yesterday that his performance was only good enough for a spot on the bench.

The Frenchman set up two goals in the FA Cup win, but his contribution was not enough to sway Mourinho.

Asked if Martial's audition was good enough, Mourinho said: "Enough to be on the bench.

"He has to perform better than the others who are competing for the same positions. His position is one where we have lots of options. Do you want me to leave Henrikh Mkhitaryan out after being man of the match and playing so well as he did? I can't.

"The players pick themselves. I am just there to analyse what they do and try to be fair with them. Such a good performance, Mkhitaryan has to play tomorrow. Simple."

Mourinho also took a swipe at Jurgen Klopp and other Premier League managers, such as Southampton's Claude Puel, who fielded weakened sides in the FA Cup and were consequently unceremoniously dumped out of the competition.

Klopp made nine changes and watched his Liverpool side crash out at home to Wolves, while Puel made 10 changes and were thumped 5-0 by Arsenal.

Mourinho said: "I don't do that, even if I am the manager of a club without the same ambitions as us - especially in the FA Cup.

"I did it once, in my first year in England, I understood the mistake. I understood the dimensions of my decision. It was a period where we had to play Barcelona in the Champions League.

"We went direct to the League Cup final against Liverpool. In that period we played Newcastle in the FA Cup and I threw it away. I understood the dimension. The FA Cup deserves respect, so I don't do that.

"If I'm changing players, I do it because I have to give chances to some other players. I have to give a rest to some others.

"I will change players against Blackburn (in the next round) because I have to give players a chance.

"I will change, but I'm not going with a team with seven kids. I can't do that. I will risk but I can't do that."

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