Jose Mourinho is not upset to have missed out on a top-four spot, saying winning titles like the Europa League has always been more important to Manchester United.
Promise has been mixed with frustration during the Portuguese’s first season in the Old Trafford hot-seat, with EFL Cup and Community Shield successes tempered by Premier Leagues struggles.
An unerring knack to draw matches they have dominated has cost United, with their top-four hopes extinguished once and for all on Sunday.
Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane secured Tottenham victory in the final game at White Hart Lane, with Wayne Rooney pulling one back for much-changed United as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat.
Mourinho had pledged to keep selecting his side with an eye on the Europa League final against Ajax – something he has no qualms about focusing on given the club’s thirst for trophies.
“I am not upset because we had to make that decision,” he said about missing out on the top four.
“When people say we gamble, we didn’t gamble, we didn’t choose the Europa League – we had to do it.
“Because if I have Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, Tim Fosu-Mensah, if I had these guys I can rotate, I can go for every match.
“When I have 14, 15 players, I can’t do it. It’s as simple as that. It is not possible to do it every three days.
“With two matches in hand that we had to play later, it is impossible.
“We never had one occasion to rest, not even to train properly, so it was not a choice.
“We were pushed for that situation and even the (fixtures) draw. I never understood if it is a draw or if they put the data in the computer, but to finish the season with four matches away from home – Arsenal, Tottenham Man City – if we were fighting for the title, what a way to fight for the title.
“If we want to try and get some results and protect players, which matches to protect players?
“I cannot go to Manchester City or Arsenal and put out five kids at the same time altogether. I cannot lose 5-0 or 6-0.
“So it’s difficult but we know what we are doing and I don’t know other clubs, I don’t know the way they think, I don’t know what is important for them.
“We, Manchester United, for us it is more important to win titles than to finish top four.
“So if we can win a third title, or like you like to say a second title, if we can do that it would be magnificent for us because we know that it’s a big objective.
“We know that if we lose the final we don’t play Champions League. We know that.
“But we fight for titles and probably other clubs finishing in the top four, probably they would like to be in our position to try and fight for the title.”
Mourinho has in mind the line-up he would like to select on May 24 in Stockholm and will continue to rotate in the final two Premier League matches, having seen positives in defeat at Spurs.
“Two bad goals conceded but a positive game for us because the players that needed to play 90 minutes, they did it, and it’s important for them,” Mourinho said.
“The majority of the players that needed to rest had the rest and we played in a positive way, especially in the second half when we brought to the team quality and a little bit more organisation.”
United were the sideshow on Sunday as Spurs bid farewell to White Hart Lane and rubber stamped second spot – their highest finish since 1963.
“I want to congratulate all and say thank you to the fans, players, my staff because all together we work so hard to achieve all that we achieve this season,” said Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
“Really disappointed because Chelsea in the end they won the Premier League. There was nothing to regret, I am very happy with the performance of the players.
“Only now say to our fans we will try next season to give our best and fight again to win the league.”
Tottenham will have to get over their Wembley jitters to do that, but the future certainly looks bright as their new stadium takes shape.
“We were talking a lot and I think we believe when the new stadium opens the doors it will help the club achieve the last level,” Pochettino added.
“That is our expectation, our idea. The facilities on the training ground and the stadium will put the team and the club at the last level.”