Manchester United will be “one of the top favourites” for the Europa League, says Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
United won the Europa League in 2017 under Mourinho, who has guided Spurs to this season’s last 32.
“The teams that drop down are always strong teams, teams that normally don’t belong to that level,” he said.
“Manchester United are one of the top teams. The group was very hard – Paris St-Germain, Manchester and Leipzig, very hard.
“We all knew it was not going to be easy for any one of them and we all knew from that group a top team would drop into the Europa League.”
The Portuguese took charge of Manchester United in 2016 and, as well as success in Europe, he also guided the Old Trafford club to victory in the Carabao Cup the same year.
But he was sacked in December 2018 after a string of poor results, before taking over at Tottenham the following November.
Mourinho has taken the north London side to the top of the Premier League and victory in Thursday’s final Europa League group match at home to Royal Antwerp will guarantee first place.
“When you have eight new teams in the competition, and eight teams that belong to another level and they drop to the Europa League, of course the level of the competition is going to improve,” added Mourinho.
“The quality improves, the intensity improves and it’s a good thing for the competition.
“But from the sports point of view, I think it’s not fair that a team that doesn’t succeed in one competition drops to another.”
Spurs will be without full-back Serge Aurier who suffered a knock in Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League victory over north London rivals Arsenal.
Midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be rested, but Frenchman Tanguy Ndombele is fit enough to return.
- Tottenham lost 1-0 to Royal Antwerp on matchday two of this season’s Europa League in their first encounter with the Belgians.
- Royal Antwerp’s last away European match in England was back in September 1994, a 5-2 defeat at Newcastle United in the Uefa Cup.
- Including qualifiers, none of Spurs’ past 17 home European matches have ended as a draw and they have won 12 of them, including the past three.
- Including qualifiers, Mourinho has won 14 of his past 16 home matches in the competition.