Journalists and bloggers preview FA Cup Final between Man Utd and Chelsea

Ahead of the 2018 FA Cup Final, I spoke to a few journalists and Manchester United bloggers. They gave their views on the final, what the FA Cup means, and whether or not this day out at Wembley defines Jose Mourinho’s second season in charge as successful or not.

Below are the responses:

Scott Patterson, Founder of Republik of Mancunia

While it’s not quite as extreme as last season, when the Europa League final determined the season as either a success or a failure, there’s lots of pressure on José Mourinho to beat Chelsea at Wembley. While United may well finish second, which shows an improvement particularly when considering the points gap between us and those below us, when they were all some way in front of us last season, the lack of a title challenge means a good league position shouldn’t make up for a lack of silverware. 

After the league and Champions League, the FA Cup is the next on the list and would serve as a decent consolation prize for the team’s efforts this season. Three trophies in two seasons would also be a good return from Mourinho.

Bill Rice, Broadcast Journalist at BBC

The FA Cup still means a lot to me. As a child of the 80s I grew up watching the cup final when it was the only televised game all season, and seeing United lifting the famous old trophy at Wembley is part of my childhood. While it might not mean anywhere near as much in modern day football, the cup still retains much of its old charm for Football supporters, be it a chance to upset one of the giants at smaller clubs, or for said big boys a trip to Wembley  – or these days two – which should never be sniffed at.

This season’s Final is fascinating as it is a real clash of the heavyweights, with both determined not to end the season as also rans. United will finish second, but with City running away with the title and Liverpool in the Champions League final, another trophy in the cabinet makes it much easier for Jose Mourinho to point at this season as progress. Chelsea will know by Sat 19th May if they have missed out on Champions League football, and so for Antonio Conte it could be a chance to say farewell with a trophy he really should have won as part of a double 12 months ago.

Jose Mourinho has an impressive record in cup finals in England, winning all five so far. However even this season’s out of sorts Chelsea presents a bigger challenge than Southampton or Ajax did in finals last season, so this is a real test of his ability to get the best from his players and get the tactics right on a big stage again, just as he did in the semi-final against Tottenham.

Two trophies (three including the Community Shield) and Champions League football was a huge success for Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge, and even without a trophy this season should be viewed as progress. I don’t believe United were as bad as their league position last season, but the improvement this campaign shouldn’t be dismissed whatever happens at Wembley – although a third cup in two seasons would be very nice indeed.

Adam McKola, Full Time DEVILS

Absolutely love the FA Cup, the 1994 and 1996 Cup winning teams have long been some of my favourites. Always been a little surprised at the lack of respect it’s given and of course, the Premier League and the Champions League come first but there’s nothing like a good FA Cup run! 

As for the current United team, I think second spot and an FA Cup would be a decent season and a definite improvement on last season’s 6th spot although the cup runs were memorable. 

I can’t wait for the final against Chelsea and am confident we can step up and take the trophy. 

I do think it’s unfair to sum the whole season up on a cup final though. A one off result. 

Jose Mourinho has improved the side, we’ve shown that in some of our results against our rivals and our improvement in our league standing. 

The only concerns I’d have would be his ability to get the best out of some of our younger talents and his failure to take some responsibility for the poor results this season e.g. Sevilla. 

Nevertheless with a good transfer window, I think he could have us properly challenging for the title next season because whilst we have been second, City have been miles off! 

Sam Pilger, author of Manchester United’s Best XI

There is no use pretending the FA Cup hasn’t lost some of its allure in recent years, but it still means a lot to me. From being at Wembley in 1985 a few days before my 12th birthday to see Norman Whiteside score that wonderful winner against Everton, to 2016 when I was at the new Wembley alongside my son and daughter to see Jess Lingard score another extra-time winner. 

The final could go either way; Chelsea are an impressive team, capable of winning any one-off game, but United should prevail if their forwards produce their best form. I don’t agree that winning the FA Cup will determine whether this season is a success or a failure for Jose Mourinho. Whatever happens at Wembley, United have shown significant improvement under him this season to rise from sixth to second, and he deserves another season at Old Trafford. 

Sam Peoples, Editor of The Peoples Person

Every Man United fan has a soft spot for the FA Cup. It gave us one of our best ever memories in that FA Cup semi-final replay when we all saw more of Giggs than we’d all hoped and over the years it’s meant a lot to the club. Sure, some of the allure has diminished over the years – especially since the move to the new Wembley and semi-finals being played there instead of at neutral grounds – but it is still the FA Cup.

Jose Mourinho faces his former club Chelsea in the final but whether or not United win will not define success or failure. The measure of success was in the Premier League and Europe for Jose so ultimately it has been a failure regardless of the FA Cup final result but there has been plenty of progress, so there are real positives to take into next season (as well as plenty of questions too, mind).

I do expect United to win the final simply because I’ve got every belief in Mourinho in cup finals. Why wouldn’t I? We’ve won both so far under him, although on paper Chelsea is the sternest test. I’m predicting a 1-0 win and if that can come from Rashford scoring in extra time after Chelsea had been the better team, it’d be sweet revenge for when Didier Drogba won the FA Cup for Chelsea back in 2007.

Barney Chilton, Red News fanzine

I am of the generation of Reds where for pretty much 20 years all we had was the FA Cup, our only successes and failures, our hopes and dreams contained in that lovingly designed big eared trophy, so we look romantically towards it still, more than others. Excitement over the draw, the away travels, the games and the hopeful glory.
Manchester United have had some fantastic FA Cup runs over the years and some of our finest match going memories – from Giggs getting the ball and then showing off that hairy chest, Kevin Moran giving fisted salutes when carried off injured, to grimaces when sent off, to Norman’s great goals at Villa Park and Wembley. Mark Hughes saving a Double and Eric then sealing another. The second part of that unique Treble. To even Louis van Gaal’s high point as his team talk finally worked down to ten men.
So, whilst we eye bigger prizes, we must never turn our nose up at this competition, and now the up and down season is out of the way, I look forward to the game.
I think it will be a tight, tense affair and we could be anxiously looking at watches as extra-time approaches. One moment, one goal could seal it – and we have history for that. So the FA Cup always allows us to dream and to Utd fans excited for it, we don’t let anyone piss on our parade. We know both it’s importance to us and it’s importance in terms of wanting Utd to kick on next season.
I feel we have stagnated since Autumn and the last month has been dull and dire. I think an FA Cup and second place will show we are moving in the right direction, but not at the pace perhaps needed. 
But we can only hope we win, and we then step up a gear come the start of next season.
But it allows you to finish on a high, it’s a Cup we share so much history with, so let’s hope the scarlet ribbons are held aloft come Saturday evening.
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