EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

FA Cup final won’t define Manchester United’s season, says Jose Mourinho

United finished second in the Premier League and suffered embarrassing exits from the Champions League and League Cup.

Jose Mourinho insists he won’t regard Manchester United’s season as a failure even if they lose against Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Mourinho’s side have one last chance to finish the campaign with silverware when they face their manager’s former club in a heavyweight Wembley showdown.

United finished second in the Premier League, trailing 19 points behind champions Manchester City, and suffered embarrassing exits from the Champions League and League Cup against Sevilla and Bristol City.

After winning the Europa League and League Cup last term – when they finished sixth in the Premier League – critics claim United have failed to make enough progress this season.

Losing to Chelsea would be a big blow to Mourinho, but he has no intention of letting the result define United’s season.

“You can analyse the way you want and I can analyse the way I want,” Mourinho told reporters at United’s hotel on Friday.

“Of course it makes a difference, but making a difference isn’t to consider whether the season is good or bad from one match.

“When I analyse the work I do, the effort I put, and everything we did in the club, I’m not going to analyse the players because of one, of course very important, match.

“I know what my players did. I know the effort they gave. The positive things, the negative things.

“I’m not going to change my opinion on one match, not at all.”

Mourinho has been slammed for adopting overly cautious tactics in several big games as United were often made to look ponderous in comparison to stylish City’s commitment to attack.

Some fear Mourinho – aiming to win the Cup for the first time since Chelsea beat United in a dull 2007 final – will adopt a conservative approach at Wembley again rather than go on the offensive.

Asked if he felt a duty to ensure the Cup final was a memorable affair for the watching world, the 55-year-old admitted he had a different view than many on what can be considered an entertaining match.

‘Edge of their seats’

“I don’t understand these words, do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so,” Mourinho said.

“I think entertaining is emotion until the end, the game open, everyone on the edge of their seats, both dug-outs nervous and tense with the result in doubt.

“For a football lover that is entertaining for me. I think it will be entertaining tomorrow.”

Mourinho has won 12 of his 14 cup finals with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and United.

His only defeats came in the Portuguese Cup against Benfica and the Copa del Rey against Atletico Madrid.

In contrast, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has yet to win a domestic cup after losing last season’s FA Cup final against Arsenal.

But Mourinho doesn’t believe that will be a factor this weekend.

“The winning mentality doesn’t have to do with record or history in finals,” he said.

“Honestly, I think what we did in the past has nothing to do with tomorrow.

“The records don’t play tomorrow. It’s 11 against 11.”

The FA Cup will be presented to the winning captain by the wife of former Chelsea and United star Ray Wilkins, who died aged 61 after suffering a cardiac arrest last month.

“It will be a very emotional moment for Mrs Wilkins, for all the family,” Mourinho added.

“I believe that Ray will be looking at it and will be enjoying it.

“I know how much he was loved at Chelsea, I know how much he is loved at Manchester United.

“I think it would be a moment that would unite the stadium, the fans of both colours, a beautiful moment.”

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