Tottenham Hotspur got it done, winning the final match at White Hart Lane and clinching the second place spot in the Premier League for the 2016-17 season.
Credit for that, but Spurs were somewhat aided by the visitors’ lineup choice, as Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho opted to play his top side in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League semifinal.
The Red Devils are chasing qualification for the UEFA Champions League through a UEL title, and essentially sacrificed the chance to finish Top Four in order to focus on the tournament.
[ RECAP: Spurs 2-1 Man Utd ]
United left Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera, and Marcus Rashford on the bench to start, and did not have Paul Pogba available following a reported death in the family. Mourinho said the focus on Europa was calculated, not a risk, and defies those who say otherwise. From the BBC:
“When people say we gambled by going to Europa League, we didn’t gamble. You can’t play two big competitions with 15 players. It was compulsory. The ones that needed to play 90 minutes got to play. We got no injuries. At the moment, the Premier League matches are the ones we don’t want to play.
“I don’t want to think about next season – I want to think about the final we have to play in.”
United has one Premier League match left before the big final against Ajax, a Dutch side which played the youngest side in league history on Sunday.