Wednesday 23 January 2019

Mourinho: Critics will 'kill me' if United fail to claim cup glory

Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho has the 26th trophy of his gilded coaching career in his sights, but the Manchester United manager claimed his critics would be lining up to "kill" him if he failed to win the FA Cup next month.

United booked their place in the final at Wembley on May 19 by coming from behind to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday.

Since taking charge at Porto in 2002-03 Mourinho has won at least one trophy in all but two of his previous 13 full seasons as a manager, with his final year at Real Madrid in 2012-13 and his first season of his second spell at Chelsea, in 2013-14, the only occasions he has ended a completed campaign empty-handed.

Victory over Chelsea next month would yield the fourth trophy of his two-year reign as United manager, following last season's Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield successes, but Mourinho is already anticipating a backlash if he falls short.

"When I don't win, you kill me," Mourinho said. "Because I almost do that all the time, when I don't do it, you kill me, which you are ready to do if I don't win the final."

As much as there is a clear desire at the club to finish the job and secure a second FA Cup in three seasons, it was also evident in the aftermath of their win that Mourinho and his squad are determined to achieve greater consistency in the Premier League and avoid some of the sharp fluctuations that have proven costly.

Alexis Sanchez has embodied some of those, but it will have been a source of considerable encouragement for Mourinho to see his January signing put behind him his struggles in the dismal 1-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion the previous weekend to head home Paul Pogba's cross and kick-start United's fightback.

This was more in keeping with Sanchez's showing in the dramatic 3-2 derby win over Manchester City, when he claimed three assists, but the Chile striker believes there is still a lot of work for him to do to assimilate fully at United.

"The reality is it has been very, very difficult for me," he said. "I arrived at a big club and I changed everything from before. I demand a lot from myself every match, every day. This gives me confidence. I hope to demonstrate more.

"Jose is a manager that has won everything and when we don't win, when we don't play well, he gets very angry, but you need to be demanding like that to be successful.

"It has been a very difficult change for me, the coach told me he doesn't like to sign players in January and that it would take me time to become accustomed to the new players. I hope we win the FA Cup, and next season we have to try to win everything."

United have demonstrated the fortitude to come from behind to beat Chelsea, Manchester City and now Spurs in the past two months, but also lost against struggling Newcastle and West Brom in that time, and Mourinho wants greater consistency.

"We should have probably eight, nine, 10 more points than we have," he said. "I think we could have finished this season with 88, 89, 90 points but not acceptable the last defeat (against West Brom), not acceptable the performance at Huddersfield (a 2-1 defeat in October), not acceptable the performance at Newcastle.

"Can we improve next season? Let's try. But if Manchester City are going to invest on top of the team they have, it will be difficult for all of us."

Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino left Wembley with plenty to think about.

Spurs want him to sign a new £8.5m contract at the end of the season, but it seems the Argentinian wants something other than just a pay rise.

Knowing that Chelsea would love him to be their next manager and that he would be near the top of Real Madrid's list if the Spanish club make a change, Pochettino will want to be sure he is given the tools to keep Spurs going forwards.

Even without a trophy, there has been progress again this season as Tottenham reached the last 16 of the Champions League and should qualify for Europe's elite competition for a third successive season.

However, Tottenham's squad is simply not strong enough to compete on all fronts and the quality of the recruitment has not matched the progress made on the pitch.

Wilfried Zaha is near the top of their shopping list, and chairman Daniel Levy will be under pressure to deliver him.

Like Pochettino, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris will all be offered new deals, but, like their manager, they will want to know Spurs are able to push forward.

Alli had given Tottenham an early lead from an Eriksen cross, but after Eric Dier hit a post in first-half stoppage time they never got close to scoring again and United were well worth the victory delivered by Ander Herrera's strike.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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