Jose Mourinho has failed to win a trophy in only two of his last thirteen seasons, once with Real Madrid (his last season there) and once with Chelsea (his first season back).
Antonio Conte has not failed to win a trophy in any of his last four seasons managing at club level.
On Saturday, in the final of the 137th edition of the FA Cup, the unstoppable force will meet the immovable object. One will lose and finish the season without a trophy. History suggests it will be Conte. He has never won a knockout competition as a manager (Supercoppa Italiana doesn’t count). Jose Mourinho has a case packed with 12 cups, to go along with his plethora of league titles.
On an oddly more positive note, the late Ray Wilkins will be honored at the game, even if the FA have declined a fan movement to rename this year the Ray Wilkins FA Cup final (Emirates Airlines wouldn’t have been pleased). But they will have a program note about him and his widow will present the Cup to the winners. Additionally, since Ray played for both teams, banners bearing his name will be erected at both ends of Wembley ahead of kickoff.
Chelsea are going for the trifecta. The senior men are trying to match the Ladies, who defeated Arsenal 3-1 to win the Women’s FA Cup (and the first leg of their eventual double) and the U18s who won the FA Youth Cup (as part of their impressive quadruple). The men can only win this one, but this would still do for now.
Date / Time: Saturday, May 15, 2018, 17:15 GMT; 12:15pm EDT; 9:45pm IST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Michael Oliver — the last time Michael Oliver set foot on the big stage was the Champions League quarter-final between Real Madrid and Juventus. He capped his night by awarding Real Madrid the winning penalty kick and showing Gianluigi Buffon a red card. On the one hand, that took courage, even if it was in Madrid. On the other, uh yeah, controversial.
Forecast: Sunny and warm. Temperature 21°C (70°F), winds 7km/h (4mph). No rain forecasted.
On TV: BBC One, BT Sport 2 (UK); FOX, FOX Deportes (USA); Sony Ten HD 1, Sony Ten HD 3 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live, BBC iPlayer (UK); Fox Soccer Match Pass, FOX Sports GO (select markets) (USA); Sony LIV (India)
Chelsea team news:: Emerson is out, David Luiz and Ampadu as well, with long-term injuries.
While Mourinho was winning the Europa League and the League Cup last season, Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League title and a feeble performance against Arsenal in this same game. Chelsea’s players have suggested that they were outplayed by an inferior team because winning the league had dulled their appetite.
There’s no such excuse this time. We’ll see how hungry they are, despite the turmoil raging over the futures of Conte, Eden Hazard, David Luiz and the implicitly critical remarks about his manager by Willian. It’s not a happy group right now. Are they capable of unity, the way they were against Liverpool a mere two weeks ago?
Maybe Olivier Giroud can work his magic in his Garden.
Manchester United team news: Romelu Lukaku is nominally doubtful with an ankle injury. You probably won’t make any money betting that he won’t play, though. Martial is fit. Marouane Fellaini is in the traveling party. Michael Carrick has transitioned to a coaching role.
Mourinho, as he is wont to do, is making all about himself.
“When I don’t win, you kill me. Because I almost do that all the time, when I don’t do it, you kill me, which you are ready to do if I don’t win the final.”
-Jose Mourinho; source: Telegraph
Winning would bring United their second FA Cup in the last three years (Van Gaal’s ignominious exit coming with the trophy clutched impotently in his hand) and 13th overall. It would be Chelsea’s eighth victory, but first since 2011-12. In an unpleasant parallel, if Conte wins he could preside over his final press conference at his club with the FA Cup sitting beside him, just like Van Gaal.
Previously: 2007 FA Cup final was the first time the final was played at the new, rebuilt Wembley Stadium. Chelsea topped United 1-0 in extra time. Didier Drogba, of course, scored the games’ only goal.