Football

Mourinho: 'A win means nothing if we don't finish in top four'

Mourinho not interested in bragging rights over arch-rivals City and Guardiola

MAN CITY MAN UNITED

Paul Pogba is out of the Manchester Derby tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The world's most expensive footballer sustained a muscle injury in the 2-0 win at Burnley last weekend and will not be available at the Etihad Stadium, along with defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, whom Manchester United boss Mourinho on Sunday implored to "be brave" with their injuries.

Asked whether midfielder Pogba would be fit, the Portuguese said yesterday: "Paul? No."

A win tomorrow morning (Singapore time) would lift United above Manchester City and into the top four, but Mourinho said stealing a march on their neighbours would be relevant only if it meant they secured Champions League football - which they can still achieve by winning the Europa League.

"It means nothing. If we finish fifth and they finish sixth and we are above them, it means nothing," said Mourinho.

"If they finish third and we finish fourth, they are above us, but it means a lot.

"This is not about Pep (Guardiola), this is not about City, it is about fighting for objectives.

"We want to play Champions League football and we still have two doors open."

Mourinho also insisted that it is "a waste of time" to speak about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the striker likely to be out for several months.

The Swede's contract at Old Trafford expires at the end of the season and, with the knee ligament damage sustained in last week's Europa League win over Anderlecht likely to sideline him until well into next season, the 35-year-old's future has been thrown into doubt.

However, Mourinho refused to discuss what comes next for the Swede veteran.

"Now he has an important surgery, so I think it is a waste of time to speak about what comes next," said the United manager.

"I just want the difficult surgery to go well... He has to recover from the injury and prepare himself mentally for the next step.

"I think the next step will be something he really wants, which is what I said before the injury in the period of doubt about his future.

"I always thought he is much more important than myself or what I want, it is what he wants.

"I always want players to be happy to choose their future and I think this is what is to happen."

Meanwhile, Man City playmaker David Silva is a major doubt for tomorrow morning's match, manager Pep Guardiola revealed yesterday.

The Spain international was forced off after just 23 minutes of last Sunday's FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal with a hamstring injury, having been hit hard by tackle from Gabriel Paulista moments earlier.

Striker Sergio Aguero has a better chance of featuring despite suffering a knock in the same game, while only match fitness is holding fellow forward Gabriel Jesus back.

The stakes are high in the third Manchester Derby of the season, with Champions League qualification points on the line.

Guardiola said: "They are good, good rivals, good quality, in good form. They've had a big run without defeat in the Premier League. We're looking forward to the game."

City have so far beaten only Arsenal of their top-four rivals at home this season, but Guardiola does not think anything should be read into that.

He said: "We should analyse game by game what happened.

"The results are a fact, but the way we play every game, we should talk about.

"We have six games left, four at the Etihad, so our qualification for the Champions League depends on our games at home.

"Psychologically, it is not (important). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose against the good teams, but it is an important three points to qualify for the Champions League.

"That is the most important thing." - PA SPORT