Manchester United “don’t celebrate second position”, says manager Jose Mourinho after his side sealed the Premier League runners-up spot with a 0-0 draw at West Ham.

Adrian
Manchester United drew their first game of 2018 with Adrian in superb form for West Ham

A largely forgettable game sparked to life with a late altercation between Hammers captain Mark Noble and United’s Paul Pogba.

United, denied victory by the inspired form of West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, moved four points clear of third-placed Tottenham with one game left.

It means Mourinho’s side will finish four positions better off than last year, which was the Portuguese’s first season at the club.

And although Mourinho said he felt “OK” about finishing second, he added: “I am not jumping around – that’s not my nature or my history. Manchester United are the same.

“The top four is obviously important but it’s better to finish second than fourth and it’s better to be second for months and months and months than losing that position and that control.

“We don’t celebrate second position but we are happy because for a few months, we realised it was impossible to win the league and, of course, the target is the second position.

David Moyes’ side remain 15th in the table after securing their survival against Leicester last week.

West Ham midfielder Mark Noble confronted Manchester United’s Paul Pogba in an incident towards the end of the game

Mark Noble and Paul PogbaMark Noble and Paul PogbaMark Noble and Paul PogbaDespite West Ham’s attempts to generate an atmosphere at the London Stadium for this fixture – by adding huge concourse motifs of their former captains and record breakers – there were a large number of empty seats.

And the game was reflective of an end-of-season affair, with the only moment of note in the later stages being a confrontation between both sets of players following Pogba’s foul on Noble.

“It was hardly worth talking about [the incident at the end]. The referee handled it well,” said Moyes after the West Ham captain appeared to grab the French midfielder by the neck in a scuffle.

Referee Jon Moss booked both players, who were on friendly terms by the final whistle.

“I was watching the images and Paul and Noble looked in love. Hugs and kisses and changing shirts (at full-time). It was good. It was competitive,” said Mourinho.

Audition for Wembley?

While unwanted results in this fixture [a defeat and a draw] contributed to United missing out on top-flight titles in 1992 and 1995, there was no such importance placed upon this encounter.

With Manchester City confirmed as champions on 15 April, United required a point to seal a second-place finish and manager Mourinho instead appeared to use the fixture as an audition for a place in his FA Cup final line-up against Chelsea on 19 May.

Deploying a three-man defence, the Portuguese boss made eight changes to his starting XI from the one that lost at Brighton, reintroducing the likes of Phil Jones, Alexis Sanchez and Luke Shaw.

Captain Antonio Valencia created United’s best opportunity of the first period, which Hammers goalkeeper Adrian expertly parried from Sanchez before brilliantly deflecting Shaw’s blistering follow-up onto the post.

England midfielder Jesse Lingard also restated his case for inclusion at Wembley with a lively performance that carried threat without goals – Adrian repelling three of his efforts.

As the minutes ticked down, United appeared to settle for their point instead of chasing all three.

Isolated Arnautovic

After ensuring the club’s Premier League survival at Leicester, Moyes said he wanted West Ham “to look up the table” as he sought to end the season with a potential – but unlikely – top-10 finish.

Victory would have drawn West Ham level with Newcastle in 10th place – albeit with a significantly worse goal difference – but the hosts struggled to match such ambition as they exhibited the symptoms of a team that has failed to win consecutive Premier League fixtures since January 2017.

Despite the best efforts of Marko Arnautovic, who has delivered 10 goals since being converted into a central striker earlier in the campaign, the Hammers struggled to impose themselves.

“Our boys showed a great attitude after getting safe at the weekend,” Moyes said.

“We have conceded a lot of goals this season so a clean sheet is great. At this stage of the season you don’t get great games.

“Declan Rice played very well tonight, the boys at the back did a good job. With a bit more care we would have scored on the break.”

Austrian international Arnautovic appeared to have the better of United defender Chris Smalling from the moment he turned past him in the seventh minute and fired straight at United goalkeeper David De Gea from 20 yards.

And while that narrative continued, he too often cut an isolated figure as West Ham’s attacking threat amounted to just two shots on target and one corner in 90 minutes.

Man of the match – Adrian (West Ham)

Adrian dealt competently with everything thrown at him and made an outstanding double save in the first half from Alexis Sanchez and Luke Shaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mourinho maintains record over Moyes – the stats
  • Manchester United have guaranteed second place in the Premier League, their highest position since winning the league in 2012-13.
  • The Reds have kept more clean sheets than any other Premier League side this season (18).
  • West Ham kept only their third home Premier League clean sheet against Man Utd in 22 matches against them (also August 1998 and December 2006).
  • Jose Mourinho has managed more matches against David Moyes without losing (13 – W8 D5) than against any other manager in his managerial career.
  • Manchester United have won just five of their last 18 away Premier League matches in London (D4 L9).
  • Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, no Premier League team has drawn more matches nil-nil than Manchester United (19, level with Southampton).

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