Mourinho Says United in UCL Qualifying Race, Jokes About ’18 League Title

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Tomorrow night sees Manchester United visit Chelsea, a massive match in terms of the race for qualification into next year’s UEFA Champions League. It’s also a match-up of the last two teams coached by Jose Mourinho, so he will no doubt be watching this crunch clash closely.

His side, Tottenham Hotspur, currently sit sandwiched between the two sides, in fifth place. That fifth place standing now takes on an added layer of meaning in the wake of Friday’s shock ruling by UEFA. The European football governing body banned Manchester City from any Euro competition for the next two seasons, meaning that now the fifth place team in the table can go to next year’s UCL.

That is of course contingent on a.) the Euro ban being upheld on appeal and b.) City finishing within the top four (they’re currently in second place, 10 points up on Chelsea for the fourth position. It was a seismic ruling, felt throughout the football world, so naturally Mourinho weighed in with a strong opinion on it.

jose mourinho

He joked that the United side he managed to second place in 2017-18, finishing 19 points behind City, should now be awarded the title. (These same kinds of claims are being made in the baseball world right now, in the wake of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal)

“I didn’t lose one single minute analyzing UEFA – they have to analyze,” Mourinho said in response to City’s situation.

“Joking apart, I just think about doing the best we can. At the end of the season we’ll see where we are. If we are sixth or seventh then it doesn’t matter if fifth goes to the Champions League.

“Wolves, Sheffield United, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton – everyone looks to the table and says, ‘We can do it’. It’s going to be very hard. It’s not about huge decisions or small decisions, it’s about the rules, the law, ‘it is or it isn’t’. UEFA punished them but they have the chance to appeal.”

“Until the appeal has finished, Manchester City have the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the process we will see if they are punished or not. If I go into that, I have to ask if the team which finished second in 2018 are going to be champions, yes or no?”

jose mourinho

Just a few  days ago, Mourinho took a swipe at his most recent former employer, conveniently omitting them from his list of teams in the top four race; while even including a team below the Red Devils. Now he has changed his tune and he said believes Old Trafford are in the mix.

“There is a big fight,” he said.

“You could see yesterday Liverpool, first against the last, you could see today Villa fighting to stay in the division and us fighting for top position, how difficult is is. This is the Premier League.

“So when we speak about the fifth spot, I think for sure Wolves, Sheffield United, Man United, Arsenal, Everton, everyone looks to the table and week after week they say we can do it and they can. It’s going to be very hard.”

eden hazard

Manchester United at Chelsea FC FYIs

February 17, 8pm, Stamford Bridge

Team news for both sides: go to this link

Starting XI predictions:  Chelsea   Manchester United

TV: Sky Sports Main Event, Premier League and Ultra HD

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Form Guide: Chelsea   DDLWL     Manchester United

jose mourinho

Odds: Chelsea win 5/6,  Draw 11/4,  Manchester United win 7/2

Probabilities via Google: Chelsea win 50%,  Draw 27%,  Manchester United win 23%

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link

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