Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Puel hopes Saints will end penalty jinx

Puel hopes Saints will end penalty jinx

José Mourinho has questioned why Manchester United's final game of the Premier League season can not be brought forward by 24 hours to help them prepare better for next Wednesday's Europa League final against Ajax.

He has now kept 11 clean sheets in 17 appearances this season, with his displays marking him out as a reliable back-up to undisputed number one David de Gea.

Mourinho downplayed any chance of United allowing De Gea to leave, saying: "David is top in the world and we want to keep the top in the world".

Asked if he had submitted a request for the game to be moved, Mourinho replied: "I don't lose time".

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United played their 62nd match of the season last night as a much-changed line-up drew 0-0 at Southampton and by the time they play Ajax on May 24 in the Europa League final they will have had a 64-match season.

"A clean sheet is good for us - for defenders, for me and for the team", Romero said on Sky Sports 1.

That Europa League final will determine whether United qualify for next season's Champions League, and will be the factor as to whether Mourinho's debut season has been a success or a failure.

Finishing second in the league table, Ajax are already guaranteed to play in the Champions League next season but Manchester United have hedged all their bets on winning the Europa League.

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"Any team has a debrief at the end of the season and this is normal but the end of the season is after the last game", said Puel, 55.

The manager has made little secret of the fact his priority has always been next Wednesday's fixture, which after the EFL Cup could secure their second major trophy of the season and qualification for next season's Champions League.

"Big players have to say to themselves 'I'm not exhausted.' I mean it, I never ever felt exhausted. They showed me they want to be an option for the final". I believe it's important that we are there again because the financial difference between clubs in Europe and Dutch clubs is big, but we have managed it.

Mourinho said Axel Tuanzebe, who has started United's last three league games, would be involved, along with his fellow academy graduates Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Matty Willock, Josh Harrop and Zachary Dearnley. In England, however, Mourinho said there had never been any concessions to clubs that go far in European competitions.

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