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Manchester United already have an FA Cup final advantage vs Chelsea

Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho has a remarkable record in cup finals and Chelsea will know all about it

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Manchester United already have an FA Cup final advantage vs Chelsea

Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho has a remarkable record in cup finals and Chelsea will know all about it

16 May 2018 Wednesday 17:12
Manchester United already have an FA Cup final advantage vs Chelsea

"Finals are not for playing - they are for winning."

In a season where Jose Mourinho's methods, philosophy and playing style have rightly been questioned, United chiefs would not want anyone else in the dugout for Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea.

The Portuguese has a remarkable record on the big occasion and has won 12 of his 14 cup finals since lifting the UEFA Cup with Porto way back in 2003. That is an 86% win percentage in one-off games where the pressure is never greater.

So how does he do it?

One of the open secrets of Mourinho's success throughout the years is how he approaches a final in the same manner he would a third-round clash with Derby County - taking the pressure off his players in the process.

There is no extra detail in the scouting reports the players are handed in the days beforehand; the team talk does not necessarily carry greater emotion.

In fact, as always, Mourinho leaves it to a player or colleague to have the final word in the dressing room on the grandest stage.

But there is a common thread throughout his time with Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and United: enjoying the celebrations rather than the final itself. Doing whatever it takes - personnel or philosophy wise - to get the win.

It has got to the point now where the opposition are expecting Mourinho to pull something out of the hat as former player Thibaut Courtois touched on.

"I think he always has surprises," the Chelsea goalkeeper said.

"I think in the games he played against us he always had different systems to play. Sometimes he played three at the back, sometimes four, sometimes he had a way to block our two wingers so he will always find something to be at his best."

Despite the opposition often dominating possession, as Bayern Munich did in the 2010 Champions League final and Ajax did in the Europa League final last year, Mourinho always feels that his side are in control and he has never lost a final in normal time.

The players feed off that - naturally raising their game on the big stage and bouncing off Mourinho's big-game record - without necessarily delivering one of the great final performances.

Tellingly, only four of his final wins have come with a margin greater than a single goal - which points to another tight affair at Wembley on Saturday.

United fans would rather be preparing for a Champions League final, but Mourinho will treat this clash with Chelsea in the same manner he would facing Real Madrid in Kiev.

One of Mourinho's proudest ever achievements was winning the FA Cup for the first, and only, time back in 2007 and climbing those famous steps as a victor in one of football's oldest tournaments.

Mourinho grew up watching the competition on television with his father, even supporting Coventry in the 1987 final, and badgered Sir Bobby Robson for stories of his cup runs with Ipswich when he worked as his assistant.

Now he has the chance to go one better than his mentor and win the FA Cup for the second time - and he will be desperate to do it.

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