Jose Mourinho has lauded his Manchester United players’ professionalism in securing second place in the Premier League, but has admitted it will be difficult to bridge the gap on Manchester City next season.
United host Watford in Sunday’s league finale with second spot already assured following Thursday’s 0-0 draw at West Ham, and Mourinho says it is the commitment and professionalism of his squad that has seen them finish so high in the table.
“I’m happy because it is the position that was available since October or November and two things could happen to a club like us,” he explained.
“One would be ‘I cannot be first and I am not professional, I am not committed, I have no pride and for me it’s the same to finish second, third or fourth’. And the other way was ‘This is the position that is available and we are going for it’. It was in relation to this professionalism and honesty and pride that we played [on Thursday] and we managed to finish second.
“That’s very positive considering that we can jump the wall of the 80 points if we beat Watford, and the in major domestic competitions in this country we are at least the second best involved. We are the second best in the Premier League, and we are one of the two best in the FA Cup.
“Is it enough to celebrate? No, not for me. But we did our job the best we could.”
But the Portuguese accepts it will take a lot to make up the difference this summer between them and Pep Guardiola's runaway champions, saying that the Premier League table never lies.
“The difference in points tells a lot,” he added. “I always think that in the championships, the truth is always there. In knockout competitions sometimes one bad day, an unlucky or lucky moment, sometimes the truth is not always there.
“But in championships over 38 matches, the reality is always the reality of the numbers. And the reality of the numbers is that between the second and the fifth the difference is eight points, but the difference between the first and second is 19 points. That’s the reality of the numbers.
“Can we close that gap in one season with a very difficult market? We are going to try.”