MANCHESTER // Jose Mourinho has tipped Manchester United to win five trophies this season. United stayed on course for an unprecedented quintuple by overcoming Inter Milan at Old Trafford last night to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. Although Sir Alex Ferguson accused his team of playing suicide football, headers at the start of each half from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo proved decisive.
And, in acknowledging the Red Devils are at the peak of their powers, Mourinho sees no reason why United should not win the lot. "Manchester United have worked together for five consecutive years," said Mourinho. "They were a young side then, they are not young anymore. Right now they are at their maximum level. That is why they are European champions. That is why they can win everything." United's next engagement is with Liverpool in the English Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday.
But Ferguson will hope for a far more complete performance from his side, who almost contributed to their own downfall. "It was a long European night," sighed Ferguson. "I didn't know if it was a game of football or a game of suicide. "We started off very well and once we scored the first goal I thought we would go on and kill them. "But then we opened the door for them with too many flicks, backheels and passes into space and were lucky to be in front at half-time."
Had Zlatan Ibrahimovic not seen his downwards header bounce up onto the crossbar, the outcome could have been drastically different. Instead, United advance to the March 20 draw with the other three English contenders that make up half the remaining field, proving beyond doubt the Premier League is number one in Europe at present. "It has been obvious for three years that the Premier League has the upper hand," reflected Ferguson.
"But I am only happy for Manchester United because we had the hardest draw. "We can play better than that and I am sure we will be better in the next round." It was a disappointing night for Mourinho, who after a lone walk to his dugout before the teams had entered the field then suffered only his second defeat in 14 confrontations with Ferguson before coming under verbal attack from the Italian journalists, who claimed he had only been hired to win the Champions League.
"They always like to find their own reasons for football things," said Mourinho. "I prefer to analyse the situation. I can't speak for the past 50 years. I can only talk about the last four or five." "My players did absolutely everything they possibly could do. They should not be criticised or questioned. We played a very good game, we really played to our full potential. "You can't just turn up and expect to win the Champions League just like that. One way is to put together a team with a huge amount of money that is not around any longer and buy superstars, the second way is to build a team that matures over the course of time."