Jose Mourinho has played down his excellent record in cup finals ahead of Manchester United’s meeting with Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
The boss triumphed in the League Cup and Europa League final last season, and victory tomorrow would mean he becomes only the third manager to win the FA Cup with two different clubs.
He has played 14 cup finals and won 12, losing the other two in extra time, while Antonio Conte has never won a cup in his managerial career.
But Mourinho, speaking at a press conference on Friday, was quick to play down the importance of his record in cup finals.
“I think the winning mentality doesn’t have to do with records or history in finals, honestly I think what we did in the past has nothing to do with tomorrow and the records don’t play, what plays is tomorrow 11 against 11 and everybody trying to give their best,” he said.
Mourinho is completely right when he says that the FA Cup final takes the form of a kind of rabid, cagey free-for-all, where those who blink first are the ones who end up losing out. It is a nervous encounter decided by the finest margin, a random moment of either brilliance or one slight oversight.
But you cannot help but feel as if the occasion is slanted in United’s favour: Chelsea, after all, have stagnated under Conte, who has never shown an interest in winning cups, and will part ways with the club over the summer.
Mourinho, on the other hand, ahead of his third and decisive season at Old Trafford, desperately needs this trophy to engender a belief among his players that they can go to the next level for the 2018/19 campaign.
For Chelsea, there is a feeling of regression ahead of this game; for United, however, this clash ought to be seen as a springboard.