Jose Mourinho has explained the reasons behind his muted celebration following Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Southampton in the League Cup final, noting that such an occasion belonged to the players and supporters.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 87th minute header decided a thrilling encounter with Claude Puel’s side to hand Mourinho his first major trophy as Man United manager.
The Swede’s late goal sparked wild celebrations amongst players and supporters but the 54-year-old remained unmoved, even refusing to muster a smile as he lifted the trophy.
And Mourinho, speaking to France Football, noted that his lack of celebration was underpinned by a desire to divert all attention towards his players and supporters.
“Of course I enjoyed winning the EFL Cup, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“I can conceal [my emotions] and concealing is a way of controlling. After the final of the EFL Cup I was very happy, but did I show it? I am not sure at all.
“In public, I did not want to put myself at the centre of an exploit that belonged to the players and the fans, that was all But in the dressing room it was something else. There, I added a human aspect to my feelings and I shared in the joy.
“In the final, there were moments where I was not happy with the play that we were producing but I tried to understand the context, the circumstances and be unmoved. And then I tried to transmit this mindset to the players. So in that area, I am better than before.”
The Mourinho of 2004 would have taken the roof off after Zlatan’s goal: coat off, running across the pitch, going right up to the Southampton fans and pumping his fists in the air – and that would have just been the first 60 seconds.
This time around, however, we find a far more composed, contemplative figure. Experiences of both joy and pain as a manager is etched into the Portuguese’s entire demeanour, informing every decision he now makes, and you could see that – in spite of what was a wonderful moment for the football club – his attention was firmly on how his side could improve going forward.