Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho reflects on 'hardest season' in management

Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to win the Europa League (and the Champions League qualification that comes with the title), and his Premier League selections might become increasingly unusual as he seeks to rest and protect the players he wants for the final against Ajax.

Neighbours Manchester City have triumphed in two of the last six campaigns, but none of these clubs had a look-in this season.

The Portuguese has ruffled feathers during a campaign in which impressive cup runs have been set against Premier League struggles.

Reacting on their final opponents, Mourinho said: "First of all two monsters - the history of Manchester United and the history of Ajax is incredible. They played the game really well, responded well to the atmosphere and I've told them they will get another chance".

"But I have to play them mixed".

"In the end, when the game was hard, when they were better than us and we were in trouble and not playing well, it was that mentality, that desire, that togetherness that made the boys fight until the end", he said. [Daley] Blind will not play against Southampton, [Marouane] Fellaini will because he's not played the last three [league] matches [due to suspension].

"We did things in this club that nobody did in the first season, like winning a trophy, like having the unbeaten record of Manchester United in the Premier League, like reaching a European final".

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"And nobody can blame us, because we have a final three days later". I have to play them by periods and I don't have another solution. When I analyse, I don't think that way.

Mourinho had pledged to keep selecting his side with an eye on the Europa League final against Ajax - something he has no qualms about focusing on given the club's thirst for trophies.

"But obviously, like we did against Arsenal, we didn't throw the match away".

"In the Champions League we'd expect to get about £40m-£50m revenues whereas the Europa League is normally around £15m-£20m revenues".

"Only now say to our fans we will try next season to give our best and fight again to win the league".

But Mourinho says that for the next two domestic matches it is more important to show a fighting spirit than to achieve a victory.

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