FA Cup exit won't bother Jose Mourinho too much as Manchester United show steel ahead of Europa League tilt

For Jose Mourinho it’s always about the bigger picture.

And that’s surely why when he woke up this morning the Manchester United boss will have been far less depressed than many might think after seeing his stars lose again at Stamford Bridge.

Because in his own way, Mourinho will compute the narrow FA Cup defeat at Chelsea as a moral victory.

Okay, United lost and their season is now all about making the Champions League next season.

But in the darkness of defeat to his former club – and the taunts of the brainless idiots who forget how he put Chelsea on the map – it was an illuminating night for Mourinho.

Mourinho had to remind the home fans of his previous achievements at Stamford Bridge
(Photo: Matthew Peters)

His stars showed a steel, belligerence and fight that hasn’t been seen since the Sir Alex Ferguson’s days when United hated to lose.

Chelsea hammered United 4-0 back in October but in five months Mourinho has turned his players into a proper fighting force who are four-square behind their commander-in-chief.

They may still lack the dynamic quality of Manchester City and Liverpool who can swamp teams when they get their intensity right.

But Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have defensive deficiencies that would have made them vulnerable to a far scarier night if they’d been in United’s position going down to ten men with Ander Herrera’s soft red card after 35 minutes.

(Photo: Getty Images Europe)
Kante’s goal was the difference at Stamford Bridge
(Photo: REUTERS)

Few analyse football as forensically as Mourinho. He loves the numbers game.

And when he looks at the tackles, blocks and interceptions his ten-man team put in on a Chelsea side marching towards a Premier League and FA Cup double his mood will lighten.

Antonio Conte had all his big guns on show and were playing ten men for 65 minutes but only managed one goal despite busting a gut to score more.

Mourinho is all about the present
(Photo: Matthew Peters)

Given the men he was missing – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney – Mourinho will spin that to his players as a good night’s work against a team who have played twelve games less.

But the target for Mourinho must now be a strong finish to the domestic season and a run to the Europa League Final.

Mourinho faces the press after crashing out the FA Cup against Chelsea

Despite an 18-game unbeaten Premier League run United are still languishing in sixth place after too many damaging Old Trafford draws.

United have proved they are no pushovers but they’re not title contenders either. At Old Trafford that’s always the benchmark.

And that’s why in the remaining weeks of the season and in the summer transfer window Mourinho must show he’s got more in the tank than making United hard to beat.

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