Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho wants 'crazy' commitment in top four battle after Burnley win closes gap

Liam Blackburn
Getty Images

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were once again urged by Jose Mourinho to overcome fitness concerns and return to his injury-hit Manchester United side after they moved one point off the top four.

A United side missing defensive duo Jones and Smalling, as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, defeated Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor on Sunday as first-half goals from Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney extended their unbeaten run to 23 Premier League games.

United, who are still in the Europa League, will now enter Thursday's derby encounter with fourth-placed Manchester City just one point behind their neighbours, but the accumulation of fixtures continues to come at a cost, with Paul Pogba now a concern for that match after he came off late on in east Lancashire.

With his options decreasing, Mourinho had last Thursday implored Jones and Smalling "to be brave" and take a risk on their respective foot and knee problems, and he once more issued a public message to the pair by insisting Eric Bailly's continued presence in his team should inspire them to return for the collective cause.

"He (Bailly) is incredible. If I was Smalling or Jones, I would play Thursday, with anything, I would," Mourinho said.

"I wouldn't accept one guy to play nine matches in a row because I am injured. I would do a last push.

"If they have a crazy mentality like I have, they would (play on Thursday). If they are safe thinking and they are surrounded by people with the same mentality they have, it is more time, more cautious. If it was me, nobody would stop me to play."

The Portuguese was unsure if Pogba had sustained a problem himself on Sunday, or if he was merely "dead" after a 51st appearance of the campaign for club and county.

(Getty Images)

"I don't know - dead (on his feet), he is for sure," Mourinho added.

"If he is injured or it's just super-accumulation of fatigue in the muscles, I don't know. If he cannot play Thursday, he cannot play Thursday and we play another one. We don't cry."

Thursday's game has added significance as another United victory would see them displace City in fourth, putting them in control of securing Champions League qualification at the expense of their rivals.

Yet Mourinho is also concerned with achieving that eventuality by adding to the club's trophy cabinet with Europa League success.

"If we beat Celta (Vigo) we go to the final and yes it is important for us to play Champions League, but this club wants trophies," he said.

"We cannot give the club the Premier League. We have 25 percent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it.

"I will rotate players again, give rest to some players again and let's see what we can do. In terms of expectation, in terms of emotion for the game, it's better for a derby with one point difference than with four. It was a good victory for us."​

EPL Table | Premier League standings after Gameweek 34

Pos Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Chelsea 32 24 3 5 38 75
2 Tottenham 32 21 8 3 46 71
3 Liverpool 34 19 9 6 28 66
4 Man City 32 19 7 6 28 64
5 Man United 32 17 12 3 27 63
6 Everton 34 16 10 8 23 58
7 Arsenal 31 17 6 8 23 57
8 West Brom 33 12 8 13 -3 44
9 Southampton 31 11 7 12 -3 40
10 Watford 32 11 7 14 -15 40
11 Stoke 33 10 9 14 -11 39
12 Crystal Palace 33 11 5 17 -7 38
13 Bournemouth 34 10 8 16 -15 38
14 West Ham 34 10 8 16 -15 38
15 Leicester 32 10 7 15 -12 37
16 Burnley 34 10 6 18 -16 36
17 Hull City 34 9 6 19 -31 33
18 Swansea City 34 9 4 21 -29 31
19 Middlesbrough 33 4 12 17 -20 24
20 Sunderland 32 5 6 21 -32 21
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