Manchester United have to be in the Champions League… it's empty without them, insists Jose Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho has declared the Champions League as ’empty’ without Manchester United’s presence in it this season.

Despite winning the competition twice in it’s current guise, and thrice overall, United have failed to qualify for Europe’s elite-club spectacle for the second time in three years.

Newly-appointed manager Mourinho will be hoping to improve that trend this season in the Premier League and the Portuguese is adamant that the Champions League has lost some of it’s allure without the Old Trafford outfit.

Jose Mourinho believes the Champions League is 'empty' without Manchester United

Jose Mourinho believes the Champions League is ’empty’ without Manchester United

‘Man United has to be in the Champions League,’ he told BT Sport exclusively. ‘I think that the Champions League is empty when Man United is not there.

‘Imagine the Champions League without Man United, Real Madrid, Barcelona.

‘There are a certain numbers of clubs that make it not a Champions League without these clubs. That’s Man United and their natural habitat.’

A fifth-place position at the end of last season has resulted in the Red Devils facing Europa League football this term – an outcome that Mourinho is desperate to change in the future as he seeks silverware.

‘I wouldn’t be happy with just finishing in the top four,’ he added.

‘I would be happy with that but plus a greater evolution in the team in terms of our evolved football – opening the door for in the next couple of years back to winning titles.

‘I don’t like to go to the players and tell them “let’s try to finish in the top four” – let’s try to win every game. We won’t and we know that, especially in this country – at this moment it is impossible for anyone.

‘But to have that as a starting point, let’s go to every game and try to win every game. But I think a big club like we are, we need to have this mentality.’ 

A winning mentality is ingrained in Mourinho’s managerial DNA – having won various silverware in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.

Bar last season’s FA Cup win, the only pieces of silverware United have had their hands on since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement are two Community Shield triumphs.

Having spent over £150m this summer to acquire Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly – expectations of United returning to the top of the English game are high. However, this pressure doesn’t faze Mourinho.

‘I feel the responsibility, as I mentioned of the job. It’s obviously a worldwide attention. I feel that in the city of Manchester, people feel the club with such a passion,’ he added.

‘I feel the responsibility, yes, but not the pressure. To be fair in football, I always had big jobs on my hands, ever since Porto.

‘Porto were a big club in Portugal and I had some of the biggest clubs in England, in Spain, in Italy and I live and learn how to live with that responsibility.

‘I think it’s good for me because it’s a way to motivate myself, to feel this good feeling that when I don’t have it, I miss it.

‘I think every job is a different job but the reality is that every club that I go out to is a club with clear objectives.

‘When I go to Inter, they were dreaming of the Champions League for 50 years.

‘When I go to Real Madrid they were desperate to stop Barcelona’s dominance.

‘When I got to Chelsea for the first time, the club was dreaming about the first title under the new owner.

‘The second time the club was in an empty period of Premier League titles and then I came here with a difficult period of three years, where the FA Cup was great but the fact that in the past three years we couldn’t qualify twice for the Champions League. So clear objectives are in my hands.

‘The dream is to win matches, to win lots of matches and you cannot do that without playing very well. What is playing very well? That depends on the way people think. To me, to play very well means to score one more than the opponent.’ 

Watch the full interview with Jose Mourinho on BT Sport 1 from 10pm on Wednesday night. BT Sport is the only place to watch all four major football competitions in one place, with exclusively live coverage of the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the Emirates FA Cup.

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