Man United: Mourinho wants Europa League win over top fourby Rohan Toure 19/03/2017 19:07:00 0 comments 1 Views
By Craig Hope for MailOnline
Published: 13:34 EDT, 19 March 2017 | Updated: 19:07 EDT, 19 March 2017
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says he would prefer to win the Europa League than finish fourth in the Premier League.
His side are up to fifth for the first time since September following Sunday's 3-1 win at Middlesbrough, a match after which both sets of players clashed in the tunnel.
That melee was sparked when Boro defender Ben Gibson mistakingly accused United's Eric Bailly of biting Rudy Gestede.
Jose Mourinho says the 'prestige' of winning the Europa League is greater than the top four
Mourinho watched Manchester United move up to fifth for the first time since September
Mourinho, though, was pleased to see his players showing fight on the pitch and insists they will keep going in the battle for the top four, although he will prioritise the Europa League, where they face Anderlecht in the last eight next month.
'I prefer to win the Europa League because it gives us the same, Champions League football. But it also gives us a trophy, prestige and a European Super Cup (final),' he said.
'But maybe we don't win the Europa League and have to fight until we can to try for fourth.
'That's what we did today. We missed many players but we had a great attitude and desire from all the boys. It was a big win to keep us alive in the race for fourth position.'
Mourinho did not answer a question on the tunnel bust-up, which came after Gibson suggested to referee Jon Moss that Bailly had bitten Gestede in stoppage-time.
But Gestede said: 'We had a few words together, it was nothing major.
'He gave me a hug and a kiss, that's it. I didn't feel anything. Ben thought he bit me, so that's why he reacted like he did. But I told him in the dressing-room we were just talking, there was no problem.'
Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia all netted for United vs Middlesbrough
Mourinho did not answer a question on the tunnel bust-up, which came after this incident
Ben Gibson suggested to referee Jon Moss that Bailly had bitten Gestede in stoppage-time
United defender Phil Jones, meanwhile, said the post-match clash was the making of the home team, who remain in the bottom three and five points from safety following manager Aitor Karanka's exit last week.
'I think it was a bit of frustration creeping in on their behalf,' he said. 'It is a difficult situation. I was in it with Blackburn so I know how they feel. When emotions are high these things happen but it was something and nothing.'
Mourinho said before the game that he knew who the Boro players were who had cost his friend Karanka his job.
And he again defended the man who was his assistant at Real Madrid.
The Manchester United boss defended Aitor Karanka after he was sacked by Middlesbrough
'People cannot delete the good things we do in clubs,' he said. 'I was sacked by Chelsea. People now they don't like me, but nobody there can delete what we did.
'Aitor, he came here and there were 10,000 people in the stadium and they were almost going into League One.
'He then took them to the play-off final and could have left the club but decided to stay. He could have left for better. I know what I'm saying. He stayed for the fans, for the owner and for the players. He had a good opportunity to go to a bigger club.
'In the end, he loses his job. But that is football. I'm sure he wants this team to stay in the division. Honestly, I don't think he's happy we won.'