Jose Mourinho has hit out at his detractors in an impassioned defence of Manchester United’s achievements this season.
The Red Devils have already won the Community Shield and EFL Cup, and on Wednesday they face Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm. However, they are already certain to finish down in sixth place in the Premier League regardless of their result in Sunday’s final fixture against Crystal Palace.
But Mourinho has used his programme notes for the game against the Eagles to launch a stinging rebuke to those who have judged United’s season as a failure, especially in light of injuries sustained to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw in particular.
“I have seen in the football media that certain pundits cannot understand why our players are tired,” he wrote after underlining United have played 64 of a possible 66 games this term.
“A pundit is not honest if they cannot forget their colours or if they try to hide the truth from their audience. It’s not my fault if their managerial career was very poor.
“Our main golascorer, Zlatan, has had major knee surgery, as has a top central defender in Marcos Rojo. Luke Shaw has had surgery at a time when he hit his best form.
“Phil Jones and Chris Smalling had important injuries at the same time.”
He continued: “Our postponed fixtures accumulated to the last month of the season, and in the last two months of the season we have played 16 matches. Don’t we deserve respect for that? Didn’t we deserve to be analysed in this context?
“Didn’t this team fight every second of every match? Didn’t this team win the Community Shield and League Cup? Didn’t this team beat the club record of 25 Premier League matches unbeaten in the same season? Isn’t this team going to play a European final next Wednesday?
“I have to stand up and say that my boys deserve all my respect, and with my boys I will walk to Stockholm.”
United’s clash with Palace is something of a dead rubber, with Sam Allardyce’s side having already achieved their primary aim of staving off relegation following last week’s 4-0 win over Hull City.
Mourinho has promised to blood a number of youngsters in the Old Trafford clash in order to rest some of his first-team squad for Wednesday’s final.