De Futebol

The Telegraphs Chris Bascombe wrote that this year was the toughest year as a coach. “Jose Mourinho says his debut season at Manchester United has been his toughest year as a coach.

United could end the year with two trophies and Champions League qualification, but such are the expectations at Old Trafford Mourinho acknowledges the assessment of the campaign comes down to one game.

Should his side defeat Ajax on May 24 to win the Europa League it will be regarded a success.

Failure will provoke a more critical reaction. But Mourinho says regardless of the outcome he has never had to work harder to get the most from a team.

“Sometimes you get into big clubs in difficult moments and the work is harder than a smaller club in the moment of an explosion,” said Mourinho.

“There is some invisible work but I know what I did and what I have to do better than anyone.”

The United manager was asked if success this year now depended on winning the Europa League.

He replied: “You (the media) have the right to say – and it makes sense to say. But I don’t feel like that and do not want the players to feel like that. And I don’t think board feel like that. Because we worked hard. This season I worked harder than ever so I don’t think that way.

“If I was in your chair, it is fair. We won the League Cup and Community Shield and until injuries arrived we fought for the Premier League top four. We had fantastic record for 25 games and did things not everyone has done at Manchester United in a first season – winning a trophy and reaching a European final. But if I was on your side and looking for this kind of headlines I accept if you say that.”

Mourinho says the Europa League final is a meeting of ‘monsters’ and could not resist a cheeky aside to referee Michael Oliver, suggesting his refereeing when United lost in the FA Cup eased their fixture congestion before they travel to Stockholm.

“First of all, (they are) two monsters. The history of Manchester United and Ajax are amazing,” said Mourinho.

“But for us, it’s the trophy and the Champions League for the next season and they finish the league this weekend, they have 12 days to prepare, we have three matches to play with a group of 15 or 16 players after so many matches in a crazy season. We played so many matches because we got to two finals and the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

“At this moment I have to say thank you to Michael Oliver for the red card to Herrera at Stamford Bridge because we couldn’t survive going further in the FA Cup, so we try to prepare the team the best we can. A final is always a final and the Europa League is a beautiful competition.

“I just feel sorry that my boys have to go to the national teams the next day because these guys should go to a spa after almost 70 matches. They should go to a spa but they all go to the national teams to play a couple of matches, one of them a friendly, but it’s a good way to finish the season.”