Europa League is not a competition Manchester United wants: Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho wants Manchester United to be on top of their game in the 2016/17 Europa League.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho revealed his side did not want to be part of Europa League but maintained that they should accept the reality.

United will take on Dutch side Feyenoord in their Europa League 2016/17 opener on Thursday at the Du Kipp stadium in Rotterdam. The Red Devils earned their entry into the competition after finishing fifth in the 2015/16 Premier League season and are placed in Group A along with Turkish side Fenerbahce and Ukrainian team Zorya Luhansk.

Ahead of the opener, Mourinho has made key changes to his squad resting captain Wayne Rooney and travelling without Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard, who were substituted at half-time during United's derby loss to Manchester City on 10 September. However, the Portuguese tactician has went in with Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata in his ranks.

The 53-year-old rues missing out on a Champions League berth but wants his team to find motivation to come up with good results in the Europa League. He believes he has sent out the right message by picking a strong team for their first game.

"It is not a competition that Man United wants. It is not one I want or the players want but it is a competition where we are and that is the reality. We have to respect the competition. We want to do well and for a club of our dimension it is not to be out of the competition in the group stage," Mourinho was quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.

"We must find the motivation I have found myself already. I have passed that motivation to the players because I know that the Europa League is not the big dream of every big player but you are not in the Champions League and you have to find your motivation in the competition where you are.

"My message to players I bring a very good squad. That is the message. To lose we bring kids. We could give experience to (Axel) Tuanzebe and other great boys we have in the squad. But maybe at the moment that would be the wrong message to my players."

United suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat against Danish side Midtjylland in the Round of 32 first leg clash of Europa League 2015/16. They progressed to the next round after winning the second leg 5-1. Mourinho said the fans would not have forgotten the loss and that is something United should keep in mind before every encounter this season.

"What happened last season in Midtjylland is something you don't forget as a fan, maybe you forget as a player, but not as a fan you don't forget it," Mourinho added.

"We have to make sure with this kind of thing we are not sleeping and that we are not losing before the match starts because you don't find the right motivation and the right attitude."