Jose Morinho went “a step too far” by changing eight players to his Manchester United side ahead of Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal, according to Gary Neville.
United suffered a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates to leave their hopes of finishing in the top four extremely difficult, with just three games in the league season remaining.
Mourinho’s side would have closed to within two points of third-placed Liverpool with a game in hand had they won at Arsenal, but instead stay fifth, five points behind.
The Portuguese made it clear he would be resting a number of players on Sunday afternoon, with the club heading into a Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday.
But winning the Europa League now represents United’s most likely course to Champions League football next season, but Neville feels this is an opportunity missed.
“I think making eight changes here today was a step too far,” he said on the Gary Neville podcast.
“They have been resilient over these last few months with obviously not losing a game in the Premier League, but then when they’ve had chances to capitalise on teams dropping points, they’ve never been able to step up and get into that top gear or get close.
“Ultimately, Man Utd have been riding both horses full pelt for the last couple of months and you’ve always felt it would be one game too far and I think today, it felt a little bit like that.
“It is going to be far too much from them now. I always felt that they would fall short, but with Liverpool dropping points in these last few weeks, and I think the big one for United was dropping points against Swansea, those are the ones that kill you really and Mourinho knows that.
“His team are short this season in terms of the Premier League and they have to focus everything on Thursday. I think they will be okay because of the fact it is a completely different competition.
“I don’t think so [that the result will have an effect on Thursday’s second leg] because of the fact there will be so many changes. Eric Bailly, Daley Blind and Marcus Rashford will come in.
“My view is that before this game, Jose Mourinho’s language in his press conference made it feel like it was all around the Europa League with two games in the competition compared to four in the Premier League.”