Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says his side must return to the Champions League – because it is “empty” without them.

For the second time in three seasons, the three-time European champions are on the outside looking in with regards Europe’s premier club competition.

Instead, after finishing fifth under Louis van Gaal in the Premier League last term, Mourinho’s side will watch rivals Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City compete against the continent’s elite in 2016-17.

And Mourinho, who won his first piece of silverware as United boss with a 2-1 win over champions Leicester in Sunday’s Community Shield, says he needs to return United back to their “natural habitat.”

“Man United has to be in the Champions League. I think that the Champions League is empty when Man United is not there.

“Imagine the Champions League without Man United, Real Madrid, Barcelona. There are a certain numbers of clubs that make it not a Champions League without these clubs. That’s Man United and their natural habitat.”

But the Portuguese says he will not merely be happy to finish in the Champions League places this term.

Mourinho believes that as the 2016-17 campaign progresses, his Red Devils must show improvement, and that they can be back among the title contenders in the coming years, to leave him happy.

“I wouldn’t be happy with just finishing in the top four,” added Mourinho.

“I would be happy with that but plus a greater evolution in the team in terms of our evolved football. Opening the door for in the next couple of years back to winning titles.”

Nevertheless, Mourinho says there is only one aim for his side ahead of the new season: To win every game.

“I don’t like to go to the players and tell them ‘let’s try to finish in the top four’ – let’s try to win every game. We don’t and we know that, especially in this country, at this moment it is impossible for anyone.

“But to have that as a starting point, let’s go to every game and try to win every game. But I think a big club like we are, we need to have this mentality.

Credit: The Mirror