Criticism unjustified: Mourinho

Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez heads in the equaliser as the helpless Tottenham defenders Ben Davies and Jan Vertonghen (right) look on.
Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez heads in the equaliser as the helpless Tottenham defenders Ben Davies and Jan Vertonghen (above) look on.PHOTO: REUTERS

Portuguese insists United are better under him after beating Spurs to reach FA Cup final

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes criticism of his side this season has been unfair after the Red Devils came from behind to beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday and reach a 20th FA Cup final.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera cancelled out Dele Alli's opener to send United into a third final in less than two years under Mourinho, having won the Europa League and League Cup last season.

Liverpool's 2-2 draw at West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday also means United need just seven points from their remaining four Premier League games to secure second place behind champions Manchester City.

"We should ask ourselves why there are too many critics on all of us," said Mourinho in a post-match interview.

"We can finish second with seven more points. To do that, with all the fantastic teams we play against, will be an achievement for a club that couldn't do it for a few years now.

"Second with 81 points is a good season and then we can come to the (FA Cup) final with a good spirit, supported by good supporters."

 

  • 8

    Consecutive FA Cup semi-finals Tottenham have lost.

By contrast, a record eighth consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeat for Spurs ensured their decade-long wait for a trophy continues and Alli decried his side's brittle nature.

"We can't keep doing this," said the England midfielder.

"We can't throw it away. We have got to improve."

His manager Mauricio Pochettino, however, had contrasting sentiments, insisting that finishing in the top four in the league for a third straight season was more important than winning a trophy.

He has never won silverware in his managerial career and Tottenham won their last trophy - the League Cup - in 2008.

"For me, the most important is now we finish in the top four to play again in the Champions League," said the Argentinian.

"We have four games to make sure we play Champions League. It will be a successful season if we assure our position."

He also sparked speculation over his future at Spurs after making some cryptic comments.

"Tottenham need more time, of course with me or with another... it's not enough because everyone feels that we are close... but it's still nearly, no?" Pochettino added.

Spurs did start like a side that had been starved of success after Christian Eriksen's inch-perfect cross was turned in by Alli for his 13th goal of the season.

But United hit back after Paul Pogba outmuscled Mousa Dembele before delivering a pin-point cross for Sanchez to head home just his third United goal.

And the Chilean was involved again for the winner 28 minutes from time when his ball across the face of the area fell perfectly for Herrera, whose low effort beat goalkeeper Michel Vorm.

Mourinho now has the opportunity next month to become the third manager to win the FA Cup with two different clubs, while United can claim a record-equalling 13th FA Cup triumph if they overcome his former club Chelsea in the final.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline 'Criticism unjustified: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe