Blues did not deserve victory, claims Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho before the FA Cup Final match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, on May 19, 2018.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho before the FA Cup Final match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, on May 19, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manchester United Jose Mourinho bemoaned old foe Antonio Conte's tactics after he lost at his own game as his side failed to break down Chelsea's defensive wall in losing the FA Cup final 1-0 on Saturday.

"I congratulate them because they won but I don't think they deserved to win," the Portuguese said.

"I am quite curious to know what you say or what people write because if my team plays like Chelsea did, I can imagine what people would say."

Mourinho and Conte have consistently clashed since the latter arrived in England. But, tactically, they have plenty in common as despite Mourinho's protestations, Chelsea's defensive resistance inspired by Conte is exactly what Mourinho has made his own trademark in a trophy-laden career.

The final started with United midfielders Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic sitting very deep so they could take turns in tracking Eden Hazard's movements in the middle. But soon Hazard was slipping cleverly and quietly into wider areas, where there was space. He won the first-half penalty that he converted in such a way.

The Blues then opted to sit back and defend their lead. But, despite David de Gea keeping United alive by saving from Marcos Alonso, Mourinho said: "To have me or de Gea in goal... the result would have been no different."

CARPING AT CONTE

Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku does not have a presence, so by putting eight or nine players in front of the box, they knew they would be dominant in that direct football.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager on Lukaku's absence.

United had 66 per cent possession and 18 shots, but did not register one on target in the first half.

Marcus Rashford failed to make the most of a rare start as a central striker in Romelu Lukaku's absence. Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was not called into action until just before the hour mark when he denied Rashford.

Paul Pogba headed wide when unmarked from eight yards out as United tried in vain to force the game to extra time.

Mourinho admitted his side missed the physical presence of Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini. The former declared himself fit enough for a late cameo appearance from the bench due to an ankle injury.

"When a player tells you he is not ready to play, not ready to start, then the question is how many minutes you think you can? How can you convince a player?" added Mourinho, who brought the striker on after 73 minutes.

"Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku does not have a presence, so by 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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2018, with the headline 'Blues did not deserve victory, claims Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe