José Mourinho says United have ‘die or live’ week ahead
Manager plays down win over Liverpool before Champions League and FA Cup showdowns
Manchester United manager José Mourinho giving instructions to Marcus Rashford during the match against Liverpool at Old Trafford. Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Yates
On Saturday the manager oversaw a 2-1 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford that stretched their lead in second place over Jürgen Klopp’s team to five points. Yet Mourinho believes the games against Sevilla and Brighton are more important as they are sudden death contests.
United trail Manchester City by 13 points in the league having played one more match, with Pep Guardiola’s side at Stoke City on Monday night. That means the Champions League and FA Cup are the only competitions United can realistically win. Mourinho’s team host Sevilla on Tuesday night in a last-16 second leg following a goalless draw in the first game. They will be eliminated if the Spanish club manage a scoring draw, while Brighton visit on Saturday for the Cup quarter-final.
“Seville and Brighton are more important games than Liverpool,” Mourinho said. “Liverpool is Liverpool, it is a big match, it is a match against a direct competitor for the top four. But nothing is decided yet. We have eight more games and 24 points to play for. But Seville and Brighton are ‘die or live’ games, so the next two are much more important than this one.”
Day by day
“Its says nothing. In modern football you have to live day by day, week by week and match by match. I can imagine that if we lose against Seville on Tuesday everyone will have forgotten what we did in the last couple of weeks.
“That’s modern football – you have to live in the moment and cope with it. So, yes, we beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool, but that means nothing because in football these days you have to prove it every day.”
Marcus Rashford scored United’s goals before Liverpool pulled one back with an Eric Bailly own goal. The 20-year-old said: “We can use the confidence to push us through the next games, and our focus is on the next game in the Champions League.”
Jesse Lingard also echoed the manager’s sentiment. “Our big week started against Liverpool,” the forward said. “To get the result we did shows what kind of team we are, and if we can get past Sevilla it will put us in a good position, and then we have the FA Cup. The win puts us in a good position in the league, but we have still got a long way to go, so we need to keep pushing.”
Lingard praised Rashford’s attitude, who was making a first league start of 2018. “It’s his mentality – he has got good people around him,” Lingard said. “They always assure him he is in a good place at the moment, and what kid wouldn’t want to be at Manchester United at the moment? He is doing well, he has come in and he has got the right mentality, and he has shown the manager what he can do.
“It’s a big club with big players, and for players like me and Marcus it’s going to be tough to start every game, but once you are on the pitch you have got to make an impact and maybe next game you will be playing. But you’ve got to always work hard and he does.”
Paul Pogba was unavailable for Liverpool after a training ground accident. Mourinho is unsure if he will be fit for Sevilla.
“I don’t know. I will speak with him. The injury? It was contact with a player in the last minute of the training session yesterday. If I finished the session one minute before it wouldn’t have happened.”