Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has talked up the importance of the club's UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg at home to Spain's Celta Vigo on Thursday.
Although the club have won 20 domestic titles and the European Cup/Champions League three times, Mourinho claims Thursday's match in the second-tier Europa League is more important than any the club have ever played.
"If we don't qualify for Champions League, it's because we're not good enough to play in it," Mourinho said during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
"I try to look at it in a pragmatic way. Obviously it's the competition you want to be [in]. But I think in this moment we just have to focus on where we are and nobody has more motivation than I have to try to win tomorrow."
United won the first leg 1-0 in Vigo last Thursday and even a draw at home will see them through to the final to face either Ajax or Lyon. The winners of the final will qualify for the Champions League.
When asked by a Spanish journalist whether he believes this is the most important game of the season and how motivated Celta Vigo will be given it's probably the most important in their history, Mourinho replied: "In terms of motivation we are even.
"For Celta it's, in their words, 'the most important match of their history'. My feelings on it are it is the most important match for us. It doesn't matter what happened before, what is important is what's next."
Mourinho then justified his decision to prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League.
He added: "The situation is simple. Seventeen matches in seven weeks with 16 players is impossible. It's not a gamble, it was a simple decision, a decision based on common sense and a consequence of our situation. We are giving everything we can, the players, myself, everyone. We are giving everything so when you give everything, no problem."
On the Old Trafford atmosphere, the United manager said: "I see a difference between matches. I don't think it's consistent with the enthusiasm. I could say for example the match against Chelsea, the match was really a very strong Old Trafford. We had other matches, for example the match against Anderlecht where the stadium was not warm enough to make us feel that [it] was a very important match for us."
Mourinho also provided an injury update, saying: "Since the last injuries we know that nobody will recover on time, even to play the last match of the season, so the ones out will be out for the season.
"But people are ready, fresh, with a big desire to play the game."
He insisted that his side "will fight hard" to make it through to the Europa League final. Asked how he would feel about winning the trophy in his first season, Mourinho said: "I'm not thinking about myself, I'm thinking about the club and players. For the club it's very important to be in a European final and to fight for the only trophy that the club has never won. It's a long journey – this is match no.14 and we are going to fight hard."
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