But he maintained yesterday that there they can still cap it with the “perfect finale” in Stockholm next month and he has backed Wayne Rooney to make a telling contribution.
The club’s leading scorer has not started a game since the draw against Bournemouth at the beginning of March and has not made an appearance off the bench since the match against West Brom on April 1.
Yet if it looks increasingly likely that the striker’s United career has just a month to run his manager believes it will still contain a glorious moment or two.
And he is hoping to be able to call on Rooney’s experience from the bench against Anderlecht in their quarter final second leg at Old Trafford tonight as he looks to move a step closer to the final in Sweden next month.
Jose Mourinho hopes Wayne Rooney will be available for selection
Wayne Rooney has not started a match since the beginning of March
“His experience and his know-how can be useful [against Anderlecht] and if he comes through the training session in a positive way I will select him,” said Mourinho.
“If we need a goal he can help us and if we need to keep a result, to keep the ball to keep control by having possession he can help us too.” Rooney has taken time to recover from his most recent setback – a double ankle injury – but his increasing spells on the physio’s bench and sidelines are a result of his age according to his manager.
“He had a lot of big problems – a few small problems a few times. When you get to a certain age – and I’m not saying he’s old – it’s a little bit more difficult to recover.
“It’s just that. But we have seven matches to play in the Premier League plus one, three or four in the Europa League so we can go to 10 or 11 matches.
“We don’t have many players. We need everyone we can. Hopefully he can be a help.”
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Man United stars arrive at the Lowry before Anderlecht clash Wed, April 19, 2017
Manchester United players have been snapped arriving at the Lowry before their clash with Anderlecht tomorrow
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David De Gea and Antonio Valencia
United have resigned themselves to a brutal equation regarding their remaining games, with Sergio Romero the latest to lay down the facts yesterday.
“I think everyone knows we pretty much have to win all our remaining games,” said the goalkeeper who, for at least tonight’s match, will continue his Europa League deployment ahead of No 1 David de Gea.
But for all the promise and momentum from the win over Chelsea at the weekend their remaining fixtures in the Europa League could still give them a place at the Champions League table.
“I think it will be the perfect finale for us,” said Mourinho, when asked about a possible final appearance. “And the perfect end of the season for us.
“It has been a difficult season, lots of matches, trying to build a team trying to recover a certain mentality, trying to finish the season playing a European final.”
Sergio Romero will start against Anderlecht ahead of David De Gea
Anderlecht stand in the way at Old Trafford tonight and represent a significant hurdle after the 1-1 draw in Brussels, a match which Mourinho felt United should have put to bed.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave United the lead before Leander Dendoncker’s 86th-minute header restored parity.
The Armenian has been in fine form in the Europa League with four goals in his last four matches on a European stage.
It is a scoring record Mourinho wishes he could replicate in all competitions given his pointedly curt response to a request to analyse his performances in the competition.
“Good, in the Europa League,” he said before adding with extra emphasis: “In the Europa League.”
It may not make a perfect season but it could be all United need to make it finish with a bang.