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Jose Mourinho Backtracks on Man United Needing a 'Miracle' to Finish in Top 4

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2018

Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on December 1, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has walked back his comments on Manchester United requiring a "miracle" to finish in the Premier League's top four this season. 

After Saturday's 2-2 draw with Southampton left United eight points behind fourth-place Arsenal, the manager told Renato Senise at RedeTV (h/t Lucas Sposito at Sport Witness) his aim was to "try to win as many points as possible and try almost the miracle of finishing fourth."

His comments in his press conference on Tuesday contradicted that statement, however:

B/R Football @brfootball

Make your mind up 😂 https://t.co/BxFCjw9lrW

Per The Independent's Mark Critchley, he said:

"I don't know if I say or if I didn't, but if I used that word is not what I feel at all.

"We have like eight or nine points from fourth something like that, I don't think we need a miracle at all. We need a good run of results, not waste points we shouldn't waste. 

"Last week before Crystal Palace game, I told my hopes and targets were end of December to be in that position. The target changed but in the sense let's try to close the distance best we can and be very close to these positions. 

"I think far from a miracle, we just need to not be so unlucky with problems that we have, we need some players to perform better than they are we need to perform better as a team but far from a miracle."

Per Sky Sports Premier League, he added:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

"I don't play that game" Jose Mourinho refutes quotes he made on Sunday regarding Manchester United needing 'a miracle' to make the top four. Follow: https://t.co/V0MM4nbHOK https://t.co/UUphiTbBA5

United's target now appears to be a place in the top six, which Mourinho believes they will achieve:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

"I think the top six will be the six who we all think will finish in the top six" Jose Mourinho doesn't expect Everton to break in to the big-boys this season ahead of Man Utd More: https://t.co/GjXF2mT2CL https://t.co/EFlOfzbA1N

After finishing second last season, 19 points behind Manchester City, the Red Devils would have been hoping to at least reduce the gulf between the two sides in this campaign if not provide a serious title challenge to the Sky Blues.

United are winless in their last three league matches, though, which has left them 16 points behind City and with a negative goal difference after 14 games.

The Red Devils host Arsenal on Wednesday, with the Gunners bringing a 19-match unbeaten run with them to Old Trafford.

Mourinho, perhaps anticipating United's struggles to continue in that game, seemed to be in a slightly prickly mood, per Charlotte Duncker and Simon Bajkowski of the Manchester Evening News:

Simon Bajkowski @spbajko

Mourinho casually rinsing United’s in-house media 😬 https://t.co/iuPWg575tZ

Bleacher Report's Rob Blanchette has had enough of listening to Mourinho and just wants to see improvement on the pitch:

Rob Blanchette @_Rob_B

Coach these players, Jose. A great coach makes professional players better. Prove you still have the tools. If not, then we hug and say goodbye.

The Red Devils can ill afford a defeat on Wednesday, as that could leave them with an 11-point gap on the top four.

Even if they win, they could still be eight points behind fourth depending on Tottenham Hotspur's result at home to Southampton.

Mourinho may feel his comments on United needing a miracle were not reflective of his true feelings on the matter, but he was not far wrong.

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