Manchester Evening News - - UNITED V FULHAM - By SA­MUEL LUCK­HURST

JOSE Mour­inho be­lieves Fi­nan­cial Fair Play (FFP) could help United bridge the con­sid­er­able gap that has de­vel­oped be­tween them and City.

The Blues are at the Premier League sum­mit and a whop­ping 18 points clear of United ahead of the Reds’ home clash with Ful­ham to­day, how­ever, their phe­nom­e­nal form was re­cently over­shad­owed by al­le­ga­tions they de­ceived UEFA over FFP.

Der Spiegel mag­a­zine in Ger­many claimed City struck a se­cret deal with UEFA in 2014 to avoid a po­ten­tial Cham­pi­ons League ban for breach­ing FFP reg­u­la­tions, but UEFA could pre­vent City from com­pet­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League if they find that the Abu Dhabi-owned club mis­led them over their spon­sor­ship in­come.

An in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to be con­cluded ‘very soon.’

Pep Guardi­ola has spent £527m on play­ers since his ap­point­ment in 2016, whereas Mour­inho has had £358.7m to in­vest on new play­ers.

The United man­ager was left frus­trated by the club’s fail­ure to sign Ivan Perisic last year and United missed out on two of their pri­or­ity tar­gets last sum­mer. The Reds are eight points adrift of a Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing berth and this is set to be­come their sixth suc­ces­sive sea­son with­out mount­ing a ti­tle chal­lenge.

Liver­pool last won the English cham­pi­onship in 1990 and Mour­inho be­lieves that United could avoid a sim­i­lar stretch if UEFA clamp down on City’s spend­ing.

“I don’t know,” Mour­inho replied when he was asked how long it would take for United to com­pete for the ti­tle.

“It de­pends on our evo­lu­tion but also other’s evo­lu­tion. If the ones above us keep go­ing in same di­rec­tion and if their am­bi­tion and in­vest­ment is con­tin­u­ous, that’s one thing.

“An­other thing is if they stop, or if the Fi­nan­cial Fair Play makes them stop, and then we can close the gap a lit­tle bit bet­ter. The world is full of sug­ges­tions [that City could be banned from the Cham­pi­ons League] and I never know if they are true or not true, and that’s not my job to an­a­lyse that.” He added: “I don’t know what hap­pened in Liver­pool’s [ti­tle drought]. I just know the num­bers but I don’t know why. It’s no one’s fault [that United have not im­proved]. It’s one re­al­ity. The con­se­quences of many things. I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s some­body’s fault.” Romelu Lukaku was dropped for the visit of Arse­nal in mid­week de­spite end­ing a two-and-ahalf month club goal drought in the draw with Southamp­ton. Mour­inho ad­mit­ted he is hold­ing can­did con­ver­sa­tions with Lukaku as he strug­gles for form but re­fused to di­vulge any de­tails. “That is some­thing I feel com­fort­able to dis­cuss with him, which I do,” Mour­inho said. “I think it is quite an easy job for you to an­a­lyse a player and per­for­mances. He’s hav­ing a rest. He was in­jured, he didn’t play a cou­ple of matches be­cause of in­juries. “So I don’t think in the last month we can speak about 90 min­utes.” Jose Mour­inho

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