Adam Drury thinks Jose Mourinho publicly dismissing Manchester United's remaining Premier League fixtures is disrespectful. Tom Bowles finds it amusing.

Tom: Right, Adam, in the two weeks he's got to prepare for the Europa League final, Mourinho’s also has three (now two) literally meaningless games to navigate.

What's the issue here?

Adam: I don't believe that any club should consider a match "meaningless".

Clubs are happy to sell expensive tickets to supporters who travel many miles to support them. They are professionally employed to prepare for matches days in advance.

And while I generally disagree with the notion of a club's 'way' or 'identity', Manchester United – with their extraordinarily expensive and deep squad, and vast winning history – have even fewer excuses to roll over, which is what they did at Tottenham.

Of course, resting players makes sense. But, as Mourinho effectively confirmed afterwards – United turned up to go through the motions, when they could have done better.

As a fan, that must be hard to take?

Tom: United's performance for the first hour against Spurs was poor, but I don’t put that down to Mourinho.

The team looked as prepared as it could have been, having only had two full days since their last match (not to mention playing twice a week for the last two months).

Mourinho also brought on Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan when trailing 2-0. He could have easily plumped for Scott McTominay and Demetri Mitchell.

For me, the fault is with the players. Most of the starters were either playing for their futures and/or their Europa League final place. This was a massive opportunity for them, and they failed.

So from a game that meant nothing, Mourinho actually did learn something: that certain players, whether in the short or long-term, can't be relied upon.

Out of interest, what do you think he should have done differently?

Adam: The problem I had was not with selection, but mentality.

By admitting afterwards that he knew his side would play poorly, Mourinho appeared to believe that he was explaining away the performance.

If that was his message to the team, it's little wonder that they were not at the races.

His trademark is now to select the narrative that fits.

According to Mourinho, winning the Europa League was a "big disappointment" for Chelsea in 2013, yet the upcoming final is the biggest game in United's history.

Similarly, United have prioritised the Europa League and very publicly taken their foot off the gas domestically, because it is "impossible" to compete on both fronts.

The teams fielded at Arsenal and Spurs were capable of putting up a considerably better fight, yet – despite being the league's strongest squad – it seems that Mourinho convinced them that they couldn't.

Do you not think he's pulling the wool over a few people's eyes?


Tom: Usually, things like 'mentality' are hard to quantify, but you're right: I don't think Mourinho was arsed either way whether United won the game or not. I don't really have a problem with that, either.

The result made no difference either way.

As for the Smalling, Jones and Rooney not being 'at the races', I suspect that has nothing to do with Mourinho's words.

The fact is that most of the players that comprise United having the 'league's strongest squad' have finished seventh, fourth, fifth and (soon-to-be) sixth in the past four seasons. They're just not good enough.

As for Mourinho, I think it's unnecessary to use something he said four years ago against him.

He should be praised for taking the Europa League seriously this season – it would be nice if more English clubs did the same.

His plans to fight on both fronts have also been compromised by a serious of unfortunate injuries.

Losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo to cruciate ligament injuries in the same game was freakish, while the absences of Juan Mata (hernia) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (dislocated shoulder) couldn’t have been legislated for, either.

If that sounds like I'm defending him, then I'm not.

Mourinho has made several mistakes this season, including failing to address United struggles at home against lesser sides, and depleting his midfield when getting rid of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

You're also right when you say Mourinho uses his words to try and shape the news agenda – a tactic which used to work in the past, but doesn't so much these days.

When Jurgen Klopp fielded a weakened team last season before the Europa League final, no-one took umbrage with it.

The fact that Klopp was the hot new thing at the time – full of "heavy metal" football and panache – had something to do with that, I think.

Mourinho occupied that position back when he first came to England in 2004. Now, though, he is the pantomime villain, and he’s not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes.

If anything, I think people try and take too much from his comments.

Does that make me sound like a paranoid fan? I hope not.

Adam: It's a fair point about Klopp, though there are a few differences.

Liverpool, obviously, lost that final, so replicating the same method may not work.

More pertinently, they actually avoided defeat in any of their last three league matches, and – in public at least – did not portray such an apathy towards the matches.

That's what grates most: Mourinho explicitly revealing that he's not bothered. It feels unprofessional, which is unfair on the supporters heading to Southampton.

And regardless of injuries, I absolutely consider United's squad to be the deepest in the league, and strong enough to compete on all fronts. They could name two XIs that would finish in the top six or seven.

Tom: We’ll have to agree to disagree re: United’s squad strength.

I think Mourinho revealing he's not bothered is quite amusing. He did it a couple of years ago when Chelsea had won the league - and they didn't even have a final to play.

It's probably also one of the few occasions when what he's saying is completely honest.

There's no mind games going on here. He's got 15 fit outfield players to choose from, his team has played more than 60 matches and he's trying to prioritise accordingly.

Obviously, it would be nice if United get to Stockholm on the back of a couple of wins, but what happens against Ajax is ultimately going to decide whether Mourinho has been right or wrong.

Win, and United can justifiably look back on this season – two trophies and Champions League qualification – as a success.

Lose, and he will rightly receive criticism for United's dreadful league campaign.

Those are the margins.

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