Mourinho may delay Man City league trophy celebration

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Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Swansea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 31, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lindsey PARNABY

Jose Mourinho said he will not hide from the obvious gulf between his side and champions-elect Manchester City ahead of Saturday’s eagerly anticipated derby meeting at the Etihad.

Victory for Pep Guardiola’s side would seal the Spaniard’s first Premier League title after a season of dominance over their rivals.

It would open up a 19-point gap between the two Manchester clubs and leave City on course to set a new record for the largest ever title-winning margin, currently held by United’s 1999-2000 team, who won the league by 18 points.

United are likely to put everything into today’s encounter, and with it being a derby clash, the chances are elevated of some tough tackles flying in. Guardiola will know that an injury to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva would seriously harm their chances of a Champions League turnaround.

Mourinho was uncharacteristically taciturn ahead of the game, refusing to discuss a number of topics, although he did confess that he will not try and talk down City’s obvious superiority in the league table.

“My motivation is to finish second,” he told reporters yesterday. “I still have the motivation of finishing top four, mathematically it is not done. It is a good distance but not done mathematically.

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“So that’s the first objective but after that I don’t hide. In practical terms and to continue into next season especially, to finish second, third or fourth is exactly the same – you don’t win the title but qualify for the Champions League group stage.

“But I prefer to finish third to fourth and I prefer second to third. We have been second for many, many months, it is our objective to fight for that and for that we need points.