Mourinho still lukewarm about Europa League, but pledges to make it a Spurs target after derby win
Jose Mourinho says the Europa League will be a genuine target for Spurs next season, if they can qualify.
The Tottenham boss has been pretty lukewarm about Uefa’s second competition, but has won it twice, with Porto and Manchester United.
Sunday afternoon’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the north London derby has given them a two-point lead over their bitter rivals and they are eighth in the table.
Man City’s European ban was successfully overturned today (Monday) making qualification a bit tougher for Spurs, but they are still in with a chance of finishing seventh, which would guarantee Europa League qualification.
An FA Cup win for anyone finishing in the top four (Chelsea, Man City or Man United) would mean their current position would be enough.
Spurs' boss said: “I think if you ask Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula 2 or Formula 3000 or whatever you call it, I can see it not being a great deal for him, but it’s a competition. I prefer to play Europa League than not to play.
“I think it’s a title that Tottenham would obviously get.
“Of course Manchester United is a club with a dimension that thinks about Champions League, but when I was there we had to play Europa League and we won the Europa League, so I think we should do everything possible to play in the Europa League next season and have to fight for that.”
The Portuguese added: “I don’t want to be selfish I don’t want to look at it just as a fan that is happy to finish above Arsenal. I would love to play in the Europa League. It is not a competition I am in love with, it is not a competition I would loke very much to play, but when you cannot play Champions League, you play Europa League.
“In my career I only played Europa League twice and I won it twice. It would not be bad to play it a third time and win it a third time.”
Mourinho was delighted that his plan to stifle Arsenal worked so well and that they were able to recover from a goal down to claim the points. Toby Alderweireld headed in the winner after Heung-Min Son had capitalised on a defensive error from Sead Kolasinac to cancel out a fine strike from Alexandre Lacazette.
“They felt the game as fans, they wore their skin,” said Mourinho about his players’ invoking a derby spirit even when confronted by an empty home stadium for the occasion.
“I am sorry for the fans because I know how much it means to them,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.
“We were very willing to give them a big moment of happiness and unfortunately, I am soryy, but we could not do it.”