MATA ISSUES RALLYING CRY
United midfielder urges teammates to finish season on a high
JUAN Mata believes it is imperative Manchester United win their final two Premier League games to make sure they are in peak condition for their Europa League final against Ajax.
United’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday means they can no longer finish in the top four and leaves the Europa League final in Stockholm on May 24 as their last chance of securing Champions League qualification.
United visit Southampton today before entertaining Crystal Palace on the season’s final day and while there is nothing riding on the games, Mata says he and his teammates cannot afford to take them lightly.
“Now it’s time to play two good games to close the Premier League and reach the Europa League final in the best shape that we can,” the Spanish midfielder wrote on his blog, published on the United website.
“It’s true that the calendar has been hectic over the last two months, but we have to push over Sakho but they will not give him away cheaply.
There is no way back for Sakho under Jurgen Klopp but the club will not cut their losses.
Given that Michael Keane is likely to command a fee close to £25 million when he leaves Burnley hard now to try to win the three remaining games. We really want to.”
United manager Jose Mourinho has made it clear that the Europa League is now the club’s sole focus, having rested players at Tottenham and in the 2-0 loss at Arsenal that preceded it.
He made eight changes to the team that had overcome Celta Vigo in the Europa League semifinals for the defeat at Spurs, which left United seven points below the top four in sixth place.
Mourinho says he already has an idea of the team he would like to align against Ajax and he must now strike a balance between resting his key players and making sure they are fit and firing for the trip to Sweden.
Mourinho, who confirmed that midfielder Paul Pogba will miss today’s game following the death of his father, said he was struggling to grant his players time off to recover between matches.
“I am giving one-day holiday ‘a la carte’, if you understand,” Mourinho said. “(Daley) Blind one day off, (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan one day off, (Ander) Herrera one day off. this summer, Liverpool will be aiming to generate an even bigger price for Sakho, whom they signed for £18 million in September 2013.
Keane is a player whom Liverpool are firmly interested in, as they are Van Dijk.
“What I want for the players is a good attitude, is a positive attitude, a positive approach, is team spirit, is understanding that some guys, they have to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.”
Southampton, who won 2-1 at relegated Middlesbrough on Sunday, are in a straight shootout for eighth place with West Bromwich Albion, who currently lead them on goal difference.
They are also out to avenge their 3-2 defeat by United in February’s League Cup final, which left a bitter taste after Manolo Gabbiadini saw what would have been the opening goal ruled out for a dubious offside.
As well as missing out on the League Cup, Southampton will be unable to improve on the previous season’s league placing — sixth — for the first time in eight campaigns.
But captain Steven Davis believes an eighth-place finish will still represent an acceptable season.
“If we go on and finish the season strongly and get ourselves in that eighth position, then we can look back at it and say it’s been an
They would be prepared to break their club transfer record for the Holland international and the ability to offer Champions League football would help their chances.
But as was the case 12 months ago, when Liverpool generated OK season,” said the Northern Irish midfielder.
“We got to the cup final, with European experience (in the Europa League) and a decent league position, but we all want more than that.”
Southampton manager Claude Puel is likely to restore several of his first-team players after making a number of changes at Middlesbrough.
Top scorer Charlie Austin could start after making his comeback from a five-month absence with a shoulder injury as a substitute at the Riverside Stadium.
Meanwhile, United have raised their full-year revenue and profit forecast for 2016-17.
The club said they expected to report full-year revenue between £560 million (RM3.12 billion) and £570 million, better than the previous forecast of between £530 and £540 million.
The club also increased their forecast for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amoritisation (EBITDA) to £185£195 million for 2016-17. The previous forecast was for a figure of between £170 and £180 million. Agencies almost £100 million in sales, they will offload those they don’t see as having a future for a premium.
Another window of change beckons with players such as Alberto Moreno and Lazar Markovic all expected to be sold. Daily Mail
Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho (front) has made a huge impression at Crystal Palace during his loan spell this season.