De Futebol

Man U ended the EPL season on a high not a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The Daily Mail: “On a day when it was all about the spirit of youth at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho once again demonstrated a knack for behaving rather childishly when the mood takes him.

Having given four youngsters their full Premier League debuts in team with an average age of 22 years and 284 days, Mourinho was rewarded with a handsome win in the sunshine.

Here was an opportunity to salute a quite wonderful goal by Josh Harrop or a fine second-half save from Joel Pereira. The energy of Demetri Mitchell and midfield presence of Scott McTominay, or perhaps to pay tribute to Wayne Rooney on what was almost certainly his Premier League farewell as a United player after 13 years. Instead, Mourinho somehow managed to draw attention to himself once again.

The United manager was conspicuous by his absence from the traditional lap of appreciation, which was led by Rooney carrying his baby son Kit.

While the media kept watch on proceedings on the pitch, Mourinho slipped quietly away through a deserted tunnel and had left Old Trafford within 25 minutes of the final whistle.

There was no interview for the Match of the Day cameras and the post-match conference room was practically empty when he breezed in and out again without receiving a single question.

United’s in-house television station managed to intercept Mourinho for all of 17 seconds. ‘Let me go home, I am in a final now,’ he said with a smile before leaving to prepare for the Europa League decider against Ajax on Wednesday.

He had, in theory, fulfilled his media commitments by showing up, but this appeared to be another demonstration of his displeasure with how United’s season has been assessed.

He used his match programme notes to take aim at the pundits – notably Graeme Souness – for not giving United more respect for battling through a 64-game season at home and abroad. ‘It’s not my fault if their managerial career was very poor,’ was the surly put-down.

It formed an unfortunate undercurrent for what should been a day of celebration at Old Trafford. A celebration of the latest academy recruits to come off the United conveyor belt, and a celebration of Rooney’s career at the club.

The United captain saluted all four corners of the ground when he came off in the 88th minute. He will be back for Michael Carrick’s testimonial next month but that will surely be it.

In what felt like a symbolic moment, Rooney was replaced by Angel Gomes who, at 16 years and 263 days old, became United’s youngest debutant since Dave Gaskell 61 years ago.

Mourinho’s plans to give Rooney a send-off were almost scuppered by an injury to Eric Bailly seven minutes after half-time. Having already used two substitutes just before the interval to give Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard a rest ahead of Wednesday’s final in Stockholm, Mourinho only had one left.

The stretcher was sent away and then so was substitute Matty Willock as Bailly decided to continue after a rather stern exchange with his manager on the touchline.

The game was almost won by that point against an all-too-compliant Crystal Palace side who were almost as inept defensively as they were on their last appearance in town two weeks ago when they were dismantled 5-0 by Manchester City.

There is certainly no cause for the Premier League to be concerned about weakened teams. The kids did Mourinho proud, none more so than Harrop who marked his big day with a fabulous goal after quarter of an hour.

Pogba slid the ball into Harrop’s path and the 21-year-old teased Martin Kelly before cutting inside the Palace defender with a little shimmy and dispatching a clinical right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

United were two ahead four minutes later and this time the scorer was a little more familiar to their supporters. Lingard broke forward and tried to play in Pogba as he surged to the edge of the box.

Joel Ward seemed to have the situation in hand but stumbled at the crucial moment, leaving Pogba clear on goal. The Frenchman steadied himself before sliding the ball into the bottom corner for what was only his fifth league goal of the season.

Palace had their moments in the second half – Pereira diving to his left to pluck Luka Milivojevic’s free kick out of the air and Christian Benteke striking the foot of the post with a downward header – but their work was done after escaping relegation.

‘There wasn’t the same pressure on the players today,’ said manager Sam Allardyce. ‘It’s just a shame we didn’t do a bit better. We’ll be making decisions on a few players in the coming days, then dipping into the transfer market.’

By then, Mourinho had already left the building. We can only hope he has something more to shout about in Stockholm on Wednesday.