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Mourinho prioritizes Europa League, may rest players v. Arsenal

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Jose Mourinho doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. We all know that. He does whatever he can to bring success to his teams.

[ MORE: United’s injury boost ]

That’s why Manchester United’s manager will potentially field a weakened side at Arsenal on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to prioritize the UEFA Europa League over the Premier League.

[ PREVIEW: Celta vs. Man United ]

Speaking ahead of United’s Europa League semifinal first leg at Celta Vigo on Thursday, Mourinho revealed his plan to manage his banged up squad as the games continue to come thick and fast.

“Thinking about us, as a team, it would be a good achievement [to win the Europa League] with so many problems we’ve had, and it would allows us to be back in the Champions League next season, we have to try and that’s what we going to do,” Mourinho said. “The Europa League for us now becomes more important. Of course, it depends on the result, depends on the way we analyse the situation after the match. But if we have to rest players next weekend, we’re going to do that.”

With Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata all back fit for the Celta Vigo game, Mourinho may well go all-out to finish that two-legged encounter in the first leg as the Red Devils are the heavy favorites against the midtable La Liga side.

In his quest to guide United back to the UEFA Champions League in his debut season at Old Trafford, should he really be prioritizing winning the Europa League over finishing in the top four?

It is a big risk for Mourinho.

After all, despite all of their injury issues and many draws (14, the highest in the Premier League) they are 25 games unbeaten in the PL and with four games to go they’re just one point off the top four. With games against Arsenal, Tottenham, Southampton and Crystal Palaces still to come and their rivals for a top four place, Liverpool and Man City, having easier schedules to end the season, it’s easy to see why Mourinho would priortitze the Europa League.

His team need to get through two games against Celta Vigo and then against Ajax (most likely, they lead Lyon 4-1 after the first leg of their semifinal yesterday in Amsterdam) in Stockholm on May 24 to lift the Europa League and gain a place in the Champions League.

The fact that the Europa League final is three days after the PL season finishes is the main issue here. Is Mourinho really willing to put everything on the line in a one-off game against Ajax? It’s an intriguing, and difficult, situation for him to manage.

That’s why they pay him the big bucks and that’s why he called himself “The Special One” manager years ago.

If United end the season with an EFL Cup, Europa League title and a place in the Champions League next season, Mourinho would deem it an incredibly successful campaign.

Day Four: All the action from the U20 World Cup

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South Korea and Venezuela clinched berths in the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday, while Germany and Argentina have surprising work to do after two matches in South Korea.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

South Korea 2-1 Argentina

Barcelona B man Lee Seung-woo helped South Korea take a 2-0 lead, then hold on for the win and group lead over England.

England 1-1 Guinea

Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori scored a wild long range own goal to cost England the three points, but the Blues are still well-positioned to advance out of the group stage. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook scored for England, and it was a beaut.

Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu

Seven different Venezuelans have scored through a pair of shutout wins, with Caracas’ Sergio Cordova the only one to bag a pair.

Mexico 0-0 Germany

Germany has just one point through two matches, thanks largely to Pachuca’s Abraham Romero’s seven saves. Mexico was outshot 12-6.

Porto, Watford, Hull? Marco Silva in demand

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Marco Silva is one of the hottest properties in management, months after eliciting cries of “Who?” following his appointment at Hull City.

While those cries may have been a tiny bit myopic given his time at Sporting CP and Olympiacos, the 39-year-old is now visible to the world despite Hull’s relegation.

[ MORE: Real Madrid nabs $50m teen ]

Silva will be back in England to meet with Hull on Wednesday, but a clause in his contract that said he could leave if the club was relegated gives the Tigers very little hope.

Rumors have him wanted at Watford, and he’s also been linked with a number of other jobs including Southampton (should the club part ways with Claude Puel).

However, the former right back is also reportedly a target of one of the biggest clubs in his home country: Champions League side Porto.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

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Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.

Allardyce resigns, opening up intriguing vacancy at Palace

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Sam Allardyce is walking away on top outside the relegation zone.

The veteran Premier League manager, 62, resigned his post as Crystal Palace on Tuesday, weeks after leading another team to safety.

The move ends a tumultuous eight months for Allardyce, who was fired as England manager after an undercover sting exposed unethical dealings with agents.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

It also comes about an hour after somebody wrote that Crystal Palace should move on from Allardyce. What a jerk, that somebody.

Rarely at a loss for words, here’s Big Sam from cpfc.co.uk:

I want to be able to savour life while I’m still relatively young and when I’m still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager.

This is the right time for me. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.”

All kidding aside — and I’m far from a Big Sam fan — congrats to the man on walking away to enjoy the finer things in life. He had a heck of a run, and we’ll see how long he can resist being away from the fray. Cheers, Sam.