Football

Finishing 2nd in EPL more important than FA Cup win: Jose

Man United to face Chelsea or Southampton in next month's final after comeback win over Spurs

FA CUP SEMI-FINAL
MAN UNITED TOTTENHAM
2 1
(Alexis Sanchez 24, Ander Herrera 62) (Dele Alli 10)

Jose Mourinho can become the third manager to win the FA Cup with two different clubs next month but says finishing runners-up in the English Premier League will be more important in the final analysis of Manchester United’s season.

Mourinho’s side hit back from conceding early at Wembley to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the semi-final on Sunday morning (April 22, Singapore time) and will claim a record-equalling 13th FA Cup triumph if they overcome Chelsea or Southampton in the final.

Victory next month would be a third trophy in two seasons for Mourinho’s United and the Portuguese would join Herbert Chapman (Huddersfield in 1922 and Arsenal in 1930) and Billy Walker (Sheffield Wednesday in 1935 and Nottingham Forest in 1959) in winning the knockout competition for two clubs.

Despite being a serial trophy-collector during his glittering career, Mourinho only had eyes on the seven points his team need to guarantee finishing as runners-up to an “untouchable” Manchester City in the EPL.

“I think the feeling now is we need two victories and one draw to finish second with 81 points,” Mourinho, who won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2007, told a news conference after beating Spurs.

“The season is successful if we finish second, if we do a better Premier League season than Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. If we do that, I think it’s a sucessful season because 81 points is to break the 80-point target and to finish second against an untouchable winner is good.

“To make a lot more points than last season, to win more matches, to score more goals, to concede less goals, to have much better results aginst the top teams.

“The (FA Cup) final is the final and obviously we have to try and win it but I don’t think it’s because of one game that the team is good or bad, a player is good or bad, a manager is good or bad or a seaaon is good or bad.”

United won the League Cup and Europa League in Mourinho’s first season in charge but finished sixth in the EPL.

They are favourites to finish second this time around and the FA Cup would crown a season of improvement at Old Trafford.

“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,” Mourinho said.

For a while at Wembley, it appeared Mourinho’s side might be swept away by Tottenham who scored in the 10th minute through Dele Alli and threatened to add to their lead.

But Alexis Sanchez levelled with a header and they controlled the second half in which Ander Herrera scored the winner.

While Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino still awaits his first trophy in English football, Mourinho proved again that he remains a tactical master as he closed in on a 10th.

“They had a period when they were better than us after they scored and we lost a little bit of control in midfield but we had a good reaction,” Mourinho said.

“In the second half, we had a good brain, good organisation, confident and calm and very much in control. We felt it would be very difficult to lose the game.” 

CHANCE BLOWN

Spurs' Alli knows that for him, his teammates and Tottenham’s fans, this was another promising opportunity blown.

“We let ourselves down, it’s very disappointing,” he said. “You can’t go 1-0 up and then 2-1 down against a team like Manchester United. We can’t put ourselves in that situation...

“We want to win trophies, we have the staff that want to win. We can’t keep doing this. We can’t throw it away. We have got to improve.”

Spurs have not won a trophy since the 2008 League Cup, and have not lifted the FA Cup for 27 years.

The last major final they reached was the League Cup final in Pochettino’s first season at the club in 2014. They lost 2-0 that day to Mourinho’s Chelsea.

For Pochettino, however, the process of transforming Tottenham’s mentality is the most important task at hand.

“We are in a process that to arrive at a semi-final, to be competitive in the Champions League and be competitive in the Premier League fighting for the top four, it’s not enough because everyone feels we are close, we are close, we are close but still we only nearly touch..,” he said.

“Tottenham in the last four years that you follow our process we are building a very good team, trying to create the winning mentality.

“But still at the moment it’s not enough and I think Tottenham need to keep going in this direction and to create that winning mentality (will not take) a few years.” – REUTERS

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