Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

United Outclass Ajax to Win Europa League on Emotional Night


This is the manager who once threw his winners' medal to the fans.

Denied a glorious homecoming by a serious knee injury, United's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was present instead as a spectator to see his current side take on the team where he made his name. And yet there he was in Stockholm, a picture of passion and pride as he celebrated with his players.

"It means a lot as it is my first European trophy with United and after what happened yesterday it is nice to bring a trophy back for Manchester", Mata told reporters.

Ajax fell short in the Eredivisie, finishing second to Feyenoord, and has now lost in the Europa League final. "If he stays next season I'd be very happy".

United and Manchester City have pledged to donate £1 million to support the victims and their families and Ferguson hailed the strength of the city's people, citing the example of the 1996 Arndale Centre bombing as an example of how Manchester can recover from the attack. Even the FA Cup was not sufficient for Mourinho's predecessor Louis van Gaal.

"It means everything. It means the third trophy and going back to the Champions League and winning a European trophy and playing Super League in Macedonia in August and means for the club the last piece of the puzzle".

United has splashed out more than $500 million on signings in the transfer market in the past three offseasons.

What does he do with Wayne Rooney, United's captain and record scorer whose best days are behind him? That apart, United can reflect on a hugely satisfactory night and Mourinho can hardly be blamed for taking advantage of the fact he had the bigger players. The defence requires work; a midfielder might be added. I have understood what was best for the team, I have tried to help when the manager's played me.

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Some will struggle and have to move on.

"I regret not being able to play this game". Technically proficient but tactically aware. I still believe I could [play every game].

He scored a smartly taken extra-time victor against Anderlecht in the quarter-finals and procured a valuable away goal with a fine free-kick at Celta Vigo in the last four.

That is the template now and while Mourinho always said he needed three seasons, that actually tends to be the point at which things become strained.

"For me what's more hard [as a manager] is the fragile mentality". It is that which provides the hope that United are about to embark upon greater things.

The 18-year-old came on as a substitute against Danish club Midtjylland in the Europa League in February 2016 and has been a regular for United's reserve team this season.

Mourinho's pragmatism paid off but he finished the season a place lower than his predecessor and kissing a trophy he had previously derided; United fans were entitled to expect more from the most expensively assembled squad in history.

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