Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side will on Saturday May 19th do battle with Chelsea’s Antonio Conte in the FA Cup final as both teams attempt to finish the season with silverware.
Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho’s heated relationship means there will be plenty of focus on the dugouts to watch out for in this weekend’s final.
Mourinho’s relationship with Conte has been hostile since they took the hot seats at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge respectively but question is who will emerge victorious at the famous Wembley stadium?
The FA Cup finals have been as eagerly awaited with both managers desperate to avoid the ignominy of ending the campaign without any silverware.
Mourinho steer United to second place behind a matchless Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City tutored side in the Premier League, but Conte’s Chelsea trailed in fifth.
A defeat in his final game in charge would be a bitter pill for the Italian. Ever since Mourinho, Chelsea’s most successful manager, criticised Conte for his wild celebrations during Chelsea’s 4-0 rout of United in the early weeks of the 2016-17 season, the two have been trading insults, some more veiled than others.
Conte has criticised Mourinho’s spending at United and accused him of being obsessed with events at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho upped the ante by labelling Conte’s touchline manner as clown-like and alluding to a match-fixing allegation Conte was eventually cleared of in Italy.
Conte in turn described Mourinho as a “little man” and “a fake”. While things have cooled of late, there will be no love lost going into the climax of the domestic season on Saturday when United hope to join record-holders Arsenal with 13 FA Cup triumphs to their name. Chelsea have not won the Cup since 2012 when Conte’s compatriot Roberto di Matteo was in charge.
Last season, after clinching the Premier League in his first season in charge, Conte fell flat to Arsenal, losing 2-1 in 2017 FA Cup finals.
Nigerian and Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses was sent off in last season’s FA Cup final and wants to make amends Chelsea face Manchester United in Saturday’s showpiece.
“Every single one of us has got to stay focused, do what the manager asks of us to do on the pitch and try to win.”
”It’s always a tough game whenever we play United. They’ve got quality players and so have we.”
“The most important thing is to stay concentrated and make sure we win it.”
Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas said the only thing that counts now is to make sure the club ends a disappointing season on a high. “We don’t have to think about next season, we need to win now, Saturday,” he said. “We can’t make the season right because the Champions League qualification is gone.
“But to finish on a high would be nice.”
Mourinho has not won the FA Cup since his first spell at Chelsea in 2007, his only success in the competition. While he would like nothing more than to lead United to victory against his old club, several of his players could also rub salt into Chelsea’s wounds too.
United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was deemed surplus to requirements by Chelsea, but has flourished at United while midfielder, Nemanja Matic was surprisingly allowed to join Mourinho at Old Trafford last season, a departure that seriously undermined Conte’s squad. Lukaku is battling to shake off an ankle injury but is expected to be available for the final.
United’s progress under Mourinho has been impressive this season and they garnered 12 more points in the Premier League than they did in his first season.
However, last season Mourinho added the League Cup and Europa League title to the Old Trafford honours list, and midfielder Ander Herrera knows the club is defined by winning silverware.
“This club is about titles, about trophies, it’s about finals,” the Spaniard said.
“We will respect Chelsea, they are a top team and are used to winning as well. That makes the final even more difficult.”
A feisty and keenly contested final is expected, as both managers will be aiming to end the season on high, but the question remains, who will emerge victorious at the famous Wembley stadium?