José Mourinho was slightly less than gracious following Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup final on Saturday. In his usual candid manner, he insisted his team, in fact, deserved the trophy, despite the scoreline. He said, following the tie, to BBC Sport:
“I congratulated them. I am Manchester United manager and I have to be respectful. Not just because they are my previous club, but because they’re the opponents today and I think we deserved to win. We were the best team, but that is football.”
“They don’t deserve to win”
Eden Hazard‘s first-half penalty decided the FA Cup final in Chelsea’s favour at Wembley leaving Manchester United and Jose Mourinho trophy-less this season. Both sides were looking for consolation from lack of title or trophy for the Reds, and Champions League failure for Conte’s Blues.
Hazard twisted free, passing Phil Jones in the 22nd minute, forcing a clumsy tackle and ensuing foul. Referee Michael Oliver pointed straight to the spot. He then cooly and calmly hit the net in what was to become the decisive moment in toughly fought rather than memorable final.
United, who had started without Romelu Lukaku, fit enough only for a substitutes spot, raised their game after the break. Newcomer Alexis Sanchez saw a goal ruled out for offside, the margin narrow needing VAR for confirmation. José Mourinho was incensed.
Thibaut Courtois put in a superb performance, a string of vital saves preserving Chelsea’s narrow lead. The Reds continued to push but without the finishing edge. Chelsea’s closing ranks stifled any comeback, their defence going into overdrive. Paul Pogba heading a ball wide of an open goal saw their best chance squandered and the scoreline remain the same.
Speaking after the match to BBC Sport Mourinho blamed the absence of Lukaku for the slim defeat. He said: “It was hard for us to play without Lukaku against a team that defends with nine players.”
“Chelsea are not stupid”
He went on to say: “You need that presence. Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku or Marouane 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.”
This may well be Antonio Conte’s last game as Chelsea manager. If he leaves, he does so after delivering the FA Cup to add to last season’s Premier League title triumph. How fickle football is when such achievements could still see his exit.
“I am committed to this club but I can’t change” – Chelsea boss Conte said of his future at the West London club, hinting that if he stays, his style will not be altered. It’s his way or no way.
He added; “For sure, we’ll make the best decision. I’m the first to accept every decision for the future. After these two seasons, I will always love this colour, these fans, this club. Also I will if my future must be in a different way.”
The win has given Chelsea a tally of eight FA Cup successes, equal with Tottenham. A win for United would have seen them overtake Arsenal’s record of 12. Football being as cut-throat as it is, whether or not either of these managers gets to add to those numbers remains to be seen.
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 MAN UTD!!!
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 19, 2018