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Mourinho and Zidane each have their final, but United charm nobody


Manchester United sealed their place in the Europa League final with victory over Celta Vigo. When Chelsea won the competition with Rafa Benítez at the helm, it was worth little. But now, for Mourinho, it is worth its weight in gold. On the eve of the second leg against Celta, Mourinho suggested that the match was the most important in United’s history. Clearly, this was hyperbolic, but his point was that the Europa League is a title that United have never won. They have won other, more illustrious titles, but not with Mourinho in the dugout, and he will be pleased to have the opportunity to deliver silverware. It should be noted, by the way, that he was honourable in victory. Jose Mourinho is generally more pleasant when winning than losing.

United's style of play has charmed nobody

United may well beat Ajax to the trophy in Stockholm, but their style of play has charmed nobody. Mourinho’s weakness is his calculated view of the game. That approach may deliver positive results, but the case of Zidane, who has also guided his team to a European final, is an obvious comparison. His Madrid side do not win finals through calculation alone. Real Madrid have found the net in 61 consecutive matches, effectively with two teams, both of which play on the front foot and more than justify the ticket price. This approach also brings success, and the history of football is full examples to support this.

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Mourinho's style made sense at Porto, but not at United

I have always understood why lower-placed teams, with limited players, attempt to make life difficult for teams with more ability. What I do not understand, is why clubs with ample resources choose to approach the game in this manner. That is what Mourinho brings to the table. It started at Porto, and it made sense there as he guided the club to Champions League victory. Yet at clubs like Chelsea, Madrid, or Manchester United, it is not as easy to justify. United did not create an image of greatness in either match against Celta. In fact, it was a miracle that they got through the semi-final. Luckily, Madrid have chosen to walk a different path, and Mourinho is but a memory.