Manchester United and Chelsea went to head-to-head in last night’s FA Cup final. This was the third meeting between the sides this season with each winning a game at home. So things were pretty even-steven going into the season-ender and both teams had an equal chance of winning.
Mourinho was up against his sworn rival, Antonio Conte and the fact that he was also facing his former side was enough motivation for him to go all out. Jose named his best starting XI, again choosing out to leave out Eric Bailly in favour of Phil Jones. A move he surely would have regretted going into half-time.
Here we look at some talking points from the game-
#1 Jones’ calamitous error
Despite missing almost half the season through injury, Phil Jones made it into England’s World Cup squad while his partner for the night, Chris Smalling was left out. It showed how highly Southgate rated Jones.
He must have rued his decision if he was watching the final. Jones gave away a poor penalty when he brought down Eden Hazard in the box and was lucky to get away with only a yellow card from Michael Oliver.
He was caught napping by Hazard and some smart work from the Belgian ensured he drew the foul from Jones and he fell right into the trap. An error like that is not what you expect from your top defender but that’s how the game goes.
#2 United fail to execute their passes
When all your key players are rested for the all-important cup final, you expect them to be sharp and ready to execute the game strategies devised by your manager. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
None of Mourinho’s core team members such as Pogba, Alexis, Matic, Herrera or Valencia played the final league game against Watford. However, they all appeared to be rusty and just not up to the task of taking the game to Chelsea.
This represents how most of Manchester United’s season went by and was a fitting end for them. Mourinho would need to ensure sharpness if they have to turn it around next season.
#3 Alexis has his goal ruled out
Manchester United came out in the second half with the intent which was missing from the first. They played like they wanted to win a trophy and opened up Chelsea to an extent.
All they needed was one goal to get back in the game. And they almost had it. In the 63rd minute, Rashford floated in a cross from the right wing and Jones got on the end of it to direct towards the far corner. However, Courtois got across brilliantly to parry it away only for Sanchez to turn it in.
But the linesman had his flag raised for offside and on replays, it proved to be a brilliant decision as Sanchez was just one foot away from the last defender. Had he moved a second later, United would have got the goal they needed and the momentum to rally back.
#4 Pogba misses golden chance to equalize
Manchester United have been abysmal with set-pieces this season. They have failed to float in proper crosses from corners or dead-ball situations and often times, the opportunity goes begging.
In the 83rd minute, United won a corner on the left-hand side and for once, a player put in the perfect cross. Martial, who had just been brought on delivered smack in the middle of the box and an unmarked Pogba headed wide. All he had to do was get it on target and Courtois would have had no chance.
You expect a professional footballer to score a gilt-edged chance like that and more so from a player like Pogba. But the pressure seemed to overwhelm him and he could not get his nerves together to enable United for that one final push.