PRAG­MATIC VIC­TORY

Mour­inho rel­ishes steer­ing Red Devils to three tro­phies in first season

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER United man­ager Jose Mour­inho said his side’s season had been a tri­umph of prag­ma­tism over po­etry fol­low­ing their Europa League suc­cess against Ajax in Stock­holm.

In a poignant match scarred by Mon­day’s ter­ror at­tack in Manch­ester, which left 22 peo­ple dead, United pre­vailed 2-0 via goals from Paul Pogba and Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan to win the tour­na­ment for the first time.

Mour­inho has re­ceived crit­i­cism over the qual­ity of United’s foot­ball and sixth-place fin­ish in the English Pre­mier League, but he fin­ishes his maiden season with three tro­phies and a place in next season’s Cham­pi­ons League.

“The po­ets are the ones that win ev­ery match,” said the Por­tuguese, who had pre­vi­ously led United to suc­cess in the Com­mu­nity Shield and League Cup.

“I think I am go­ing to have one of these jobs in a few years. I al­ways lose matches, but some guys win ev­ery time and I don’t.

“But in a bad season, in a season where some­times I felt my team is the worst in the world and I am the worst man­ager in the world, we won three tro­phies and go to the Cham­pi­ons League by win­ning a tro­phy.

“Not by fin­ish­ing sec­ond or third or fourth, and we have the hon­our of go­ing to the Su­per Cup.

“So the season was the vic­tory of prag­ma­tism and the peo­ple who re­spect the op­po­nent and try to ex­ploit the op­po­nents’ weak­ness. Based on prag­ma­tism and hum­ble prin­ci­ples. Not po­ets.”

The United man­ager cel­e­brated Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory ex­u­ber­antly at the Friends Arena, at one point be­ing bun­dled to the turf in an em­brace with his ju­bi­lant son.

A two-time Euro­pean cham­pion with Porto and In­ter Mi­lan, Mour­inho once de­clared he did not want to win the Europa League, say­ing suc­cess in the com­pe­ti­tion would be a “big dis­ap­point­ment”.

He has now won the tour­na­ment twice, hav­ing led Porto to glory in the UEFA Cup — as the Europa League was pre­vi­ously called — in 2003.

“To me it is the most im­por­tant tro­phy of

my ca­reer be­cause it is the last (most re­cent) — that is how I look at things,” he said.

“Of course, Cham­pi­ons League is big­ger than Europa League, but that is the last tro­phy and that is when the feel­ings are un­der the skin and ob­vi­ously it is a fan­tas­tic feel­ing for the team.

“It means every­thing. It means the third tro­phy and go­ing back to the Cham­pi­ons League and win­ning a Euro­pean tro­phy and play­ing Su­per League in Mace­do­nia in Au­gust and means for the club the last piece of the puz­zle.

“Now it is like Ajax and some other clubs with ev­ery tro­phy in the world of foot­ball, so it means every­thing.”

Pogba and man of the match An­der Her­rera both ded­i­cated vic­tory to the vic­tims of Mon­day’s dev­as­tat­ing sui­cide bomb at­tack on concert-go­ers at Manch­ester Arena, which also left dozens in­jured.

“If we could, we would ob­vi­ously change the peo­ple’s lives for this cup, im­me­di­ately,” Mour­inho said. “We wouldn’t think twice. Does this cup make the city of Manch­ester a lit­tle bit hap­pier? Maybe. But we just came to do our job.” AFP

EPA PIC

Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech (left) chal­lenges Manch­ester United’s An­der Her­rera in their Europa League fi­nal at the Friends Arena in Stock­holm on Wed­nes­day.

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