Jose Mourinho was bullish despite Manchester United’s 1-0 loss in the FA Cup Final to Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday as he side started slowly and never recovered.
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The negative tactics Mourinho deployed from the start didn’t work as he was hellbent on stopping Eden Hazard from running the game but that’s exactly what the Chelsea playmaker did.
Mourinho believed his team should’ve won the game, even after handing the initiative to Chelsea as the Red Devils couldn’t quite find an equalizer in an improved second half display to end their season trophyless.
Mourinho had the following to say to the BBC after the defeat, which was his first in a cup final in England and just the third in his 15 major finals as a manager.
“I think we deserved to win. We were the best team. But that’s football…” Mourinho said. “I can imagine if my team played like Chelsea did, I can imagine what everyone would be saying… I am quite curious. I am now on holiday but I gave everything I could and the players, I know they gave everything they could. We played without Lukaku against a team which defends with nine players, you need that presence in the box that we didn’t have for a long time. We did everything. We tried absolutely everything. It is the kind of defeat that obviously hurt, like every defeat hurts, but I go home with a feeling that we gave everything. No regrets.”
“They did and we knew that. This is the way they normally play with a little more ambition on their counter attack. I think today after the 1-0 they were really, really defensive. I repeat. I know our team without Lukaku we don’t have a presence,” Mourinho said. “Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku or Fellaini does not have a presence so putting eight or nine players in front of the box they knew they would be dominant in that direct football. We tried everything by other ways but they had a huge block of compacted players. The image of the game is that David De Gea did not touch the ball. He touched the ball to grab it in the net.”
What Mourinho is conveniently leaving out of his post-game analysis is that United started the match focusing on man-to-man battles and trying to stop Chelsea from playing rather than their own game.
Yes, having Lukaku only on the bench was a big blow, but United were so concerned about stopping Hazard they forget to play themselves until the final minutes of the first half.
You have to wonder if Mourinho playing against his former club Chelsea, and the manager he has several spats with in recent months in Antonio Conte, made him focus too much on his opponents rather than unleashing Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Co. in attack as he did to great effect in the second half as Rashford was denied twice by Courtois, Sanchez had a goal chalked off for offside and Pogba headed wide with a glorious chance.
Mourinho managed liked the Scared One to start off with on Saturday rather than the Special One and his players didn’t start playing until the second half when Chelsea were already ahead and settled in to defend their way to FA Cup glory.
Had United started the game on the front-foot, they showed they possessed the attacking prowess to cause Chelsea plenty of problems with or without Lukaku.
Mourinho wasn’t ready to let his team loose in the season finale and it cost them the FA Cup trophy.