Jose Mourinho is adamant his team deserve to finish in second place in the Premier League this season.
And he really, really wants you to know they deserve to finish the best of the rest after Manchester City as they sit in second on 68 points, two points ahead of third-place Liverpool and four points ahead of fourth-place Tottenham with seven games to go.
A defeat at crosstown rivals Man City next weekend will see City clinch the PL title in what will be a bitter moment for Mourinho and United, but the Portuguese coach has repeatedly hit out at critics and at the weekend pointed to his club still being “in transition” and is happy with the progress they are making.
Speaking after United’s 2-0 win against Swansea City on Saturday, Mourinho revealed he is sick and tired of hearing how the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal are better teams than Man United.
“Manchester City is not important for me. What is important to me is that since the moment we left the first position, we have been second for the whole of the season,” Mourinho said. “We deserve to finish second no matter what the critics say. You all say the teams in third, fourth, fifth and sixth are all better than us, but they are not better than us. We have more points than them. We are going to fight in the seven matches we have left to go to finish second.”
Of course, he’s right from a pure points standpoint. But can you really argue that Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal aren’t better to watch than United when they’re at their best?
United’s pragmatic style under Mourinho has been lambasted by pundits and fans but he is getting results and racking up points with David De Gea having another fine season in goal to cover up any of United’s defensive deficiencies. Only City have conceded fewer than United’s 23 in 31 PL games this season but City, Liverpool and Tottenham have all scored more goals than United to add more weight to the argument that they’re more entertaining teams to watch.
Look, United are good. They are making progress from their sixth-place finish last season (although that is a little skewed given how they basically gave up on the league and went all-in on the Europa League in the final months of the season) in Mourinho’s first campaign at Old Trafford.
Despite three trophies last season and a return to the UEFA Champions League knockout round, they just aren’t as good as Man City.
Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino continue to get plaudits for the way their teams play and Mourinho will not get that anytime soon due to his overly defensive tactics in multiple games this season, not least their shock UCL exit at the Round of 16 to Sevilla.
There’s no doubt that Mourinho will park the bus at Man City on Saturday to try and stop Guardiola’s side from winning the title, so perhaps he’s just getting ahead of the game. Because if United set up in a 5-4-1 formation at City next Saturday, the next few days will be dominate by talk of how Mourinho lacks ambition and United aren’t entertaining to watch.