Jose Mourinho has told his Manchester United players to be happy rather than nervous as he revealed the secret of his cup final success.
Mourinho has been successful in 12 of the 14 finals he has contested as a manager, in contrast to his opposite number today, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who has won none.
Speculation remains rife that today’s FA Cup final will be Conte’s last game in charge of the Blues, but Mourinho says that will have no bearing on the outcome.
“Honestly I still don’t know what his situation is,” said Mourinho, who has buried the hatchet with the Italian following their war of words earlier this season.
“I didn’t read or listen to him say he is leaving and for me that’s the most important thing, Antonio and the club.
“Of course sometimes I read what is written, that someone is coming, the other is coming, but until it is official I don’t know.
“But in relation to the match, if it is or isn’t his last match, will not change his approach to the game and his desire to win.”
Mourinho is hoping striker Romelu Lukaku passes a late fitness test on an ankle injury.
Winger Anthony Martial is fit while David de Gea will start in goal as regular cup keeper Sergio Romero is short of match sharpness.
Victory, and a 13th final success for Mourinho, would also be a 13th FA Cup for United.
“I like to play the matches,” he added. “That’s how you should approach finals, you shouldn’t go to finals less than very happy. That’s the point.
“If you give me the choice of finish the (last) match against Watford and go on holiday, or be working one more week to play a beautiful final, of course I want to play the beautiful final.
“Everybody wants to play finals. You have to be happy. Not nervous. Anxiety is normal but you have to go with happiness.”
Some pundits have expressed fears the showpiece could be a dull, cagey affair, especially given some of United’s less-than-cavalier performances this season.
But Mourinho countered: “I don’t understand these words of entertaining. Do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so.
“I think entertaining is emotional until the end, an open result until the end, everybody on their seats until the end, both dugouts nervous and tense with the unpredictability of the result.
“For me as a football lover, not as a manager, that’s entertaining. I think it will be entertaining.”
Whatever happens today, Mourinho insists United’s season will not be defined by the result.
United finished second in the Premier League, a distant 19 points behind runaway champions Manchester City, but Mourinho insists progress has been made: “People can do what they want, you can analyse the way you want to analyse. I can also analyse the way I want to analyse.
“Of course it makes a difference, but it’s one thing to make a difference and the other is to consider the season good or bad because of one match.
“I analyse the work I do, the effort I put in, and everything we all did at the club.
“I know the positive things and the negative things so I am not going to change my analysis of the season because of the result of one match. Not at all.”
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