Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho contemplates what could have been after the FA Cup final. Photo: David Klein/Reuters

LONDON – Jose Mourinho claimed Chelsea didn’t deserve to win the FA Cup after adopting a cautious approach in the second half of their 1-0 victory against Manchester United on Saturday.

Mourinho was frustrated that Chelsea opted to sit back and defend the lead secured by Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty at Wembley.

United were poor in the opening period, but they controlled possession after the interval as Chelsea manager Antonio Conte opted to play more cautiously.

Despite dominating in the second half, Mourinho’s side left empty-handed thanks to some fine saves from Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

And the United manager, often criticised for sending out negative teams himself, couldn’t resist the chance to take a swipe at his old rival Conte’s tactics.

“I congratulate them because they won, but I don’t think they deserved to win,” Mourinho said.

“I am the Manchester United manager and I have to be respectful, not just because they (Chelsea) are my previous club, but because they are the opponents today.

“But I think we deserved to win. I am quite curious to know what you say or what people write because if my team plays like Chelsea did, I can imagine what people would say. I am quite curious.

“The image of the game is that (United goalkeeper) David de Gea did not touch the ball. He touched the ball in the net.”

Mourinho admitted the absence of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who was only able to feature as a second-half substitute following an ankle injury, was a major hindrance as it encouraged Chelsea to play a more defensive and physical style.

“It was a bit hard for us to play without Lukaku against a team that defends with nine players. You need that presence,” he said.

“Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku does not have a presence, so putting eight or nine players in front of the box they knew they would be dominant in that direct football. 

“We tried everything by other ways, but they had a huge block of compacted players.

“Every defeat hurts, but I go home with the feeling we gave everything. No regrets.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insisted he is a “serial winner” after ending a difficult season on a high by beating Manchester United.

In what is still widely expected to be Conte’s final game in charge, the Blues withstood a second-half onslaught from United after Hazard’s 22nd-minute spot-kick to ensure Jose Mourinho’s men end the season trophyless.

A year on from winning the Premier League in his debut season in English football, Conte failed to even qualify Chelsea for the Champions League as they finished fifth in the Premier League.

“I am the first to understand because I am the coach of an important club in England, in the world, and it is right the club demands of me a lot,” said the Italian on the constant speculation over his future.

But Conte defended his record after winning a knockout competition for the first time in his managerial career.

“Also in a difficult season, I have showed I am a serial winner,” he added. “This is the truth. To win in this way, this season, has given me more satisfaction than my wins in the past.”

AFP