Jose Mourinho does Manchester United a favour: Richard Buxton
Spurs' win over Leicester gives Red Devils an edge in Champions League race
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be sending Jose Mourinho a box of chocolates this week.
Manchester United's manager pointed the finger at his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart as one of the main culprits of attempts to unduly influence referees against his team.
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||LEICESTER CITY|
|(James Justin 6-og, Harry Kane 37, 40)|
But Mourinho's former club and the man who replaced him now owe a debt of gratitude after Spurs defeated their Champions League qualification rivals Leicester City this morning (Singapore time).
James Justin's deflection of a wayward Son Heung Min shot became the fifth own goal that the Lilywhites have benefited from this season - more than any other English Premier League team.
A first-half schooling was completed by a Harry Kane brace which extended his personal tally over the team for whom he once led the line to 14 goals in 10 top-flight outings.
The rewards, however, were reaped 320km away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
United, who meet West Ham next, should head into Sunday's showdown against the Foxes as overwhelming favourites to clinch the final place for Europe's elite club competition.
Brendan Rodgers' side have taken up a permanent residence in the top four since September. In all but name, this 3-0 reversal removed them from the box seat.
His former mentor previously killed off the Northern Irishman's last bold ambition when Chelsea comfortably swung the pendulum away from Liverpool in the 2013/14 title race.
Ruthless counter-attacks remain a hallmark of Mourinho's ability to frustrate and condemn those who believe his pragmatic teams can simply be outplayed.
Then as now, Rodgers' charges remained in with a fighting chance at the finish line, yet no one really believed that they would be able to successfully see their quest through.
Mourinho's natural antagonism means that he thrives on upsetting the applecart.
It is an approach considered outdated at the game's highest level but has found rare solace in Spurs' futuristic home.
He is hellbent on transforming Mauricio Pochettino's clean-cut kids into a team which bares its teeth.
Given that the Portuguese's predecessor showed exactly why nice guys finish last, courting contempt is clearly preferable to hoovering up meaningless plaudits.
Statistics seem to vindicate that blunt-edged approach, with only Liverpool, United and Manchester City garnering more points this term since his return to the capital last year.
A personal admission of similarities between Spurs and his former Porto team is still damned with faint praise.
Everything is already geared towards a concerted tilt at success next season rather than in the death throes of the current campaign.
Missing out on a Europa League place would still constitute a crushing blow, having moved ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers into sixth.
Not for the first time, Arsenal stand in both Tottenham and Mourinho's way.
Should Mikel Arteta guide the north Londoners to FA Cup glory next month, they will qualify for Europe and their neighbours' seventh-place finish will be rendered obsolete for a continental return.
That would be a cruel setback for Spurs, not that their manager would greet the viable outcome with any emotion.
In Mourinho's world, no one and nothing is more important than his self-driven agenda.
Inadvertently, it is helping his old club to secure the aims that he could not deliver.
REMAINING EPL MATCHES
v West Ham (Home, Thursday, 1am)
v Leicester (Away, Sunday, 11pm)
v Liverpool (Away, Thursday, 3.15am)
v Wolves (Home, Sunday, 11pm)
v Man United (Home, Sunday, 11pm)
v Crystal Palace (Away, Sunday, 11pm)