Jose Mourinho admits Manchester United are playing for second
Mourinho does not think City can be caught.
Jose Mourinho has effectively conceded the Premier League title to Manchester City.
The Blues are 15 points clear of Manchester United at the summit and are showing few signs of letting up as the season enters February.
United have been City’s nearest rivals throughout the campaign, but Mourinho concedes the gap is almost certainly insurmountable with 13 games remaining.
“The game is important for us because we need points to be the first of the last,” the Portuguese said.
“We have to try to finish second.”
He added: “We are in this position all season. We were first for a few weeks and then I think we were always second.
“I don’t remember us being maybe third, but not fourth, fifth or sixth.
“We have been there since the beginning of the season, better than last season in every aspect: better in points, better in the position in the table, number of goals scored, the number of goals we concede.
Jose Mourinho has conceded for the first time that second is the best #MUFC can hope for this season. "We need points to be the first of the last - we have to try to finish second"— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) February 2, 2018
“(We have been) better in everything so we have to try to stay there and it is not easy because (there are) very good teams.”
Saturday’s visit of Huddersfield is the kind of match United can ill-afford to drop points in if they are clinch second spot.
United head into the match without long-term absentees Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly, while Marouane Fellaini faces another spell on the sidelines with a knee injury that forced off the midfielder just minutes after coming on at Tottenham.
“No, no, it’s not an anterior cruciate ligament,” Mourinho said.
“It’s not a complete rupture of any structure of the knee. But we need him and Champions League is arriving and lots of tough matches to play.
“Probably we lose (him) for a few weeks, but I cannot say two, three, four, five at this moment.”
Mourinho was more forthcoming when it came to the return of Bailly and Ibrahimovic, expressing his hope that they would be available for the Champions League trip to Sevilla on February 21.
There have been suggestions the latter will soon be on his way out of Old Trafford to join Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy – reports Mourinho had nothing to offer on.
“I don’t speak with players about media news,” the United boss said.
“I saw him every day. I am not working directly with him, but, for example, today I was with the fitness coaches watching his work.
“He is with me before training, he is with me after training – he never mentioned absolutely anything to me. Not an opinion, not a comment – nothing at all.
“So I presume that it is nothing true in the news because I suppose if there is any truth I would probably be first to know from him, at least one question, but nothing at all so I presume nothing.”