Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United meet a Chelsea side led by Antonio Conte in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Here FP looks at the two managers.
Cup of solace
Rarely have either of these managers experienced trophyless seasons. Conte won the Premier League title in his first season in England. Mourinho has 20-something trophies – the exact number depends on Community Shields, which the Portuguese adds and others subtract – from his long and successful career. The FA Cup is the pair’s last remaining chance of silverware this campaign.
There is no love lost between Mourinho and Conte, the Portuguese’s permanent successor as Chelsea boss. The pair have engaged in a lengthy feud since the Italian’s arrival at Stamford Bridge. It began in earnest when Mourinho accused Conte of being disrespectful as United were beaten 4-0 at Stamford Bridge. And it ignited as the FA Cup began in January, with the insults growing in their intensity and becoming ever more personal. A ceasefire may only be temporary.
Chelsea have won three of the five clashes since the start of the 2016-17 season, when Mourinho and Conte took up their posts. But the momentum appears to be shifting to United, who won 2-1 at Old Trafford in February. Conte’s exit at the end of this season appears to be something of a formality, at times acknowledged by the players’ performances. And United are beginning to learn from Mourinho how to win the big games.
The attacking verve United are renowned for has not always been present since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013. Mourinho, ever the pragmatist, seems to struggle with the scrutiny his tactics have faced. His approach is more cautious than Conte’s. Although the Italian has also adjusted to a defensive mindset at times this season. Both sides are dangerous on the counter attack and that might result in an open contest.
Conte’s position has been the subject of speculation all season. But he negotiated successive losses to Bournemouth and Watford and continued, despite the league season coming to a limp conclusion. It appears a parting of the ways is inevitable. Mourinho hopes he is building a dynasty at Old Trafford. He needs style, substance and silverware to prove it.
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