Jose Mourinho insists that playing a weakened Manchester United team against Arsenal on Sunday was ‘common sense’.

  • Arsenal replace United in fifth after win over Southampton
  • Gunners beat United 2-0 at weekend
  • Mourinho determined to focus on Europa League trophy

Mourinho has decided to concentrate on winning the Europa League this season and plans to secure qualification to the Champions League next term that way.

It’s a competition that’s still in United’s hands and not having to focus on the fight for the top four will take the pressure off the players, as well as the manager, who’s had an underwhelming first season in charge.

Speaking ahead of the Red Devils’ second Europa League clash against Celta Vigo on Thursday, Mourinho stood by his decision to rest certain players for the league match against the Gunners last Sunday.

“The situation is simple,” the ex-Chelsea manager said.

“Seventeen matches in seven weeks with 16 players is impossible.

“It’s not a gamble, it was a simple decision, based on common sense. In April and May, 17 matches with 16 players, is completely impossible.

“So, since the moment we lost players, and we lost initially four of them in one week when we lost [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones from the national team and we lost Zlatan and Rojo against Anderlecht in that moment and, after that, we lost boys that could be good alternatives – Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Tim Fosu-Mensah.

“So, when we lost these players in a period of 17 matches in seven weeks, it was an impossible job. It was not a gamble, just a consequence of our situation.

“We are in this situation now and we have to fight for it, so let’s see if tomorrow we can do it and if we can go to the final.

“But it doesn’t matter what, no regrets. We are giving everything we can, the players, myself, everyone that works around here. We are giving everything so, when you give everything, no problem.”

The match at the Emirates ended 2-0 to Arsenal, registering Arsene Wenger’s first league win over Mourinho.