Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has today given his thoughts on the fact that Premier League rivals Manchester United qualified for this season’s Champions League via winning the Europa League.
Despite finishing 6th in the Premier League table last season, one place behind Arsenal, United’s victory over Ajax in the Europa League final at the end of May gifted the Red Devils Champions League football for next season.
United boss Jose Mourinho was open in his decision to favour his side’s European run over their Premier League campaign towards the season’s end, with the Portuguese tactician having even fielded weakened sides domestically to ensure the fitness of his first-choice players for the Europa League.
Many fans and pundits spoke out against the tactics of Mourinho in the wake of his decisions, though others argued that the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss was simply taking advantage of the European system that was in place.
Of those who have voiced their displeasure with the automatic Champions League place awarded to the winners of the Europa League is Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, with the Frenchman having aimed a thinly veiled jibe at long-time rival Mourinho in an interview on the topic this afternoon.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, Wenger revealed:
‘I was always against it.’
‘Because apart from Man United, who did win the Europa League?’
‘All the years before it was always a team who was kicked out of the Champions League by having been kicked out of it before.’
‘You cannot go into the season and think that [you will get into the Champions League by winning the Europa League]. I always was not in favour of that.’
‘I think at some stage it can influence on the championship.’
‘If a team is in April in a position where they have more chance to win the Europa League they can let some games go in the championship, and not completely focus on that, on the regularity of the competition.’
‘I will always play a team that has a good chance to win the next game. In the Europa League if we can afford sometimes to rest some players we will do it.’
‘But we have to adapt to the level of the competition and see first what kind of group we play in.’