Mourinho: Manchester United’s season a success even if we lose FA Cup final to Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is looking to win his second FA Cup as manager.
Updated 18 May 2018
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Mourinho: Manchester United’s season a success even if we lose FA Cup final to Chelsea

  • United finished second in the Premier League, but a 19 points behind arch-rivals City.
  • Mourinho's side face Chelsea at Wembley with both managers under fire.

LONDON: Jose Mourinho insists he won’t regard Manchester United’s season as a failure even if they lose against Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Mourinho’s side have one last chance to finish the campaign with silverware when they face their manager’s former club in a heavyweight Wembley showdown.
United finished second in the Premier League, trailing 19 points behind champions Manchester City, and suffered embarrassing exits from the Champions League and League Cup against Sevilla and Bristol City.
After winning the Europa League and League Cup last term — when they finished sixth in the Premier League — critics claim United have failed to make enough progress this season.
Losing to Chelsea would be a big blow to Mourinho, but he has no intention of letting the result define United’s season.
“You can analyze the way you want and I can analyze the way I want,” Mourinho said.
“Of course it makes a difference, but making a difference isn’t to consider whether the season is good or bad from one match.
“When I analyze the work I do, the effort I put, and everything we did in the club, I’m not going to analyze the players because of one, of course very important, match.
“I know what my players did. I know the effort they gave. The positive things, the negative things.
“I’m not going to change my opinion on one match, not at all.”
Mourinho has been slammed for adopting overly cautious tactics in several big games as United were often made to look ponderous in comparison to stylish City’s commitment to attack.
Some fear Mourinho — aiming to win the Cup for the first time since Chelsea beat United in a dull 2007 final — will adopt a conservative approach at Wembley again rather than go on the offensive.
Asked if he felt a duty to ensure the Cup final was a memorable affair for the watching world, the 55-year-old admitted he had a different view than many on what can be considered an entertaining match.
“I don’t understand these words, do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so,” Mourinho said.
“I think entertaining is emotion until the end, the game open, everyone on the edge of their seats, both dug-outs nervous and tense with the result in doubt.
“For a football lover that is entertaining for me. I think it will be entertaining tomorrow.”
Mourinho has won 12 of his 14 cup finals with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and United.
His only defeats came in the Portuguese Cup against Benfica and the Copa del Rey against Atletico Madrid.
In contrast, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has yet to win a domestic cup after losing last season’s FA Cup final against Arsenal.
But Mourinho doesn’t believe that will be a factor this weekend.
“The winning mentality doesn’t have to do with record or history in finals,” he said.
“Honestly, I think what we did in the past has nothing to do with tomorrow.
“The records don’t play tomorrow. It’s 11 against 11.”
The FA Cup will be presented to the winning captain by the wife of former Chelsea and United star Ray Wilkins, who died aged 61 after suffering a cardiac arrest last month.
“It will be a very emotional moment for Mrs.Wilkins, for all the family,” Mourinho added.
“I believe that Ray will be looking at it and will be enjoying it.
“I know how much he was loved at Chelsea, I know how much he is loved at Manchester United.
“I think it would be a moment that would unite the stadium, the fans of both colors, a beautiful moment.”


Afghan refugee Nadia Nadim scales summit of women’s football

Updated 19 March 2019
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Afghan refugee Nadia Nadim scales summit of women’s football

  • Nadim sets sights on women's World Cup glory this summer.
  • Former Afghan refugee plans to become a doctor once she hangs up her boots for good.

PARIS: “I don’t really think about the past and what happened,” says Nadia Nadim, the daughter of an executed Afghan general who spent years playing football in the fields beside her refugee camp before becoming a Denmark international.
“I am fortunate to be in a situation where I can play football and love what I do,” adds Nadim, a 31-year-old forward who recently completed a switch from Manchester City to Paris Saint-Germain.
Her story is a remarkable one. She was barely 10 years old when her father was killed by the Taliban, her family fleeing the war-torn nation and finding a new home in Denmark.
The journey from her home in Herat was a long one, via Pakistan and then on to Italy with the aid of human traffickers in a bid to get to Britain where she had family. Instead they found refuge in Denmark.
“We came to Denmark in 2000 when I was 10 or 11 years old, and we used to be in this camp, and just beside this camp there was these amazing football fields,” Nadim told AFP.
“Every day after school me and other refugee kids used to go and watch these other guys train. One day I asked if I could join in, and the coach was like ‘yeah, of course’,” she explained.
Away from the turmoil of her homeland at that time, her teenage years in Denmark were peaceful and she enjoyed comics, school — and especially sport.
“I feel happy and I feel grateful every day. I am fortunate to be in a situation where I can play football, be the player I want to be and meet new people all the time,” she says.
Nadim, who has embarked on studies to become a surgeon after her football days are over, feels the sport is a wonderful social leveller.
“There were a lot of kids from different areas ... Arabs, Iraqi, Bosnian, Somalian, nobody could speak the language, and no-one spoke English, so the only way we communicated was with the game,” she recalled of her early days in Denmark.
“Everyone was included, nobody would say ‘No’ because you are different ... that is what I still love about the game, everyone can be a part of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Christian or Muslim, it’s a game.”
While women’s equality is relatively advanced in Denmark, Nadim concedes that the situation is far more complicated in Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan girls are not supposed to do sports, not supposed to wear shorts,” she says.
“But you can use sports to change points of view ... I have seen this myself.
“When I was younger my Mum would be like don’t play football with the boys because the women, my friends, think that there is something else going on.
“I used to hide myself on the street — we used to play street football — because my Mum was like, if they see you they are going to start talking.
“That was so stupid.”
Nadim went on to become a full Denmark international and played in the European championships final in 2017 where she scored the opening goal but could not prevent her side losing 4-2 to the Netherlands.
However, to her enormous chagrin, Denmark did not qualify for the World Cup, which kicks off in France in June.
“I was so disappointed,” she says.
She is circumspect when asked if she thinks the World Cup is going to be a “turning point” for the growth of women’s football.
“I don’t think there’s one tournament or one point that’s going to change everything,” she said. “I don’t think that’s how it works. It’s going to take time, but we’re on the right path.”
When she hangs up her boots, the woman who was forced to flee conflict herself says she hopes to combine her burgeoning medical career with humanitarian work.
“I think Doctors Without Borders do a great job and I’d love to be there for a couple of years to gain experience, but also be in an area where you probably are the only person who can help these people.”