Jose Mourinho had a gilt-edged chance to end a season spent in Pep Guardiola’s shadow with a statement FA Cup final win on Saturday but ended up explaining away another passionless performance that will invite more criticism from the Old Trafford faithful.
Eden Hazard’s 22nd-minute penalty settled the final to ensure Mourinho’s second United season ended trophyless and the United was in a brusque mood in the Wembley press conference room.
When a reporter suggested United had made a slow start to the final, Mourinho began patting his hands together and replied: ”
Do you think? I don’t think we did. With your questions… I know already where I am and I don’t have a big desire to speak so I think it’s better to say congrats to the winners and that’s it.”
A broadcaster then asked Mourinho if the best team had won.
“I’m quite curious too,” Mourinho began. “Especially because now I’m on holidays and have more time for that, I’m quite curious for today, tomorrow, next couple of days to read, to watch, to listen your opinions.”
The United manager’s mood was unlikely to have improved when a sound malfunction during one of his answers caused a 44-second delay until a Football Association official managed to fix it.
Mourinho also claimed Chelsea’s tactics were ‘predictable’ and United did a ‘fantastic defensive job’ despite Phil Jones’ blunder gifting Hazard the decisive spotkick.
“That’s football,” Mourinho said of the winning goal. “I think our team did a fantastic defensive job without defending, we controlled the positions, we controlled the transitions really well, they only played long balls to [Olivier] Giroud to flick and then Hazard to get second balls in individual actions, and when you play against a team so predictable is quite easy to adapt to it.
“I didn’t think we would concede any goal in this match but of course Hazard is a very good player and he created the penalty.”
Despite finishing second in the table it was a disappointing season for United fans. Manchester United has a history of playing attacking football and winning trophies. They did neither this season.
United fans will not stand for another pragmatic season from Mourinho. They will expect a more up-tempo style of football next season. The big question is whether Mourinho is willing to take the handbrakes off his side?