MANCHESTER. – Jose Mourinho says he congratulated Pep Guardiola on Manchester City’s season even though Manchester United made them wait to win the English Premier League soccer title. The runaway leaders went two goals ahead early on in the Manchester derby at the Etihad but were pegged back by an incredible second-half performance from United. Mourinho’s side scored three times after the break – with Paul Pogba netting twice and Chris Smalling grabbing the winner – and the United boss embraced Guardiola at full-time on the touchline to praise City’s performances this season despite Saturday’s capitulation.
The Portuguese coach told Sky Sports: “I got the chance to congratulate Manchester City for their title because they are going to win deservedly.” Pressed if he congratulated Guardiola on winning the title when they shook hands, he confirmed: “Yeah, (I said) congratulations for the title, they deserved it, more points than others, they gave no chance to the others.
“I keep saying we’re doing a better season than last season, more points, more victories, more goals, less goals conceded but everything was better for us but it was not enough because they had this season of don’t stop winning. But we are not the team people think we are, not as bad as people think we are, not as bad a manager as people think I am, the players aren’t as bad as people think they are.
“And that’s what we are trying to prove that we are the second best team in the country, but for that we need points.”
United’s victory means they have closed the gap to 13 points, so City now need two victories to win the title, while United are four points clear of Liverpool with a game to play in second place.
And Mourinho has challenged his side to take the fight for the English Premier League title to Manchester City next season after spoiling City’s title party by coming from 2-0 down to win a thrilling derby 3-2 on Saturday.
Victory would have crowned City, who still hold a commanding 13-point lead over United, champions for a fifth time.
But a day after City manager Pep Guardiola claimed to have been offered the chance to sign Pogba by the player’s agent, Pogba led United’s fightback by scoring twice in as many minutes before Smalling completed an incredible comeback.
“My objective here was to get points and not spoil any celebrations,” said Mourinho.
“The point is can we improve enough to catch them next season?”
United finished sixth, 24 points behind champions Chelsea, last season and Mourinho wants a similar level of improvement to tilt the balance of power in Manchester back in United’s favour.
“Next season we have to improve even more because this season we improved in relation to last season: more points, more victories, more goals scored, less goals conceded, better results against the top five teams.
“We improve at every level but it was not enough. That’s why I congratulate Man City because they are going to win the title, they deserve to win the title.” – AFP