Jose Mourinho insists that Manchester United are back where they belong as they prepare to face Sevilla for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Europa League success last season rescued Mourinho’s first year in charge at Old Trafford, securing a place in Europe’s premier club competition as a result.
With United only finishing sixth in the Premier League last term, lower than any season under his predecessor Louis van Gaal, United had to beat Ajax in the EL final to make the Portuguese tactician’s first campaign in charge any kind of success.
That victory meant the Red Devils secured a Champions League spot for only the second time since the retirement of club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, and Mourinho, who had dismissed the Europa League as a competition in the past, admitted how vital that triumph was.
“I think the Europa League final was internationally our most important match in the last years because we won the competition and that victory brought us to Manchester United’s natural habitat, which is the Champions League,” he said.
“I think Manchester United has to be a team of the Champions League, so that victory last season was very important for us because we finished outside the top four in the Premier League and, by winning the Europa League, we won a title and at the same time, we went back to the Champions League.”
Rivals Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus have already booked their places in the last eight and Mourinho added: “If we manage to win the tie and go to the last eight, I think it’s a good achievement.
“I don’t think we are one of the best teams in the competition. But I think when a team arrives in the last eight, anything can happen.
“I think when you are in the last 16, it looks really, really far.
“But when a team gets in the last eight, you start smelling semi-finals and I think when a team gets into the last eight, the feeling is, of course, you are among the best.”
The tie is evenly poised at 0-0 after the first leg in Spain and Mourinho insists United must improve on their performance in Seville.
“Sevilla is a really good team and the result of the first leg is a result that leaves everything open for tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t feel that we have any advantage in this moment.
“We are going to try to prove that we are better (than the first leg) and to try to win the match. But the reality in this moment is that we have no advantage at all.”
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