Mourinho relishes steering Red Devils to three trophies in first season
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
Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech (left) challenges Manchester United’s Ander Herrera in their Europa League final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Wednesday.