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Man Utd game before last Europa final and Jose’s 20-second press conference

Manchester United fans have seen a lot in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, managers have come and gone at a rate that perhaps no one among the Old Trafford faithful could have predicted – five managers since Fergie retired in 2013, if you include club legend Ryan Giggs’ brief time in the hot seat in the wake of David Moyes’ sacking.

Few of those in the Old Trafford dug-out garnered attention quite like Jose Mourinho, who has created headlines wherever he has been for the best part of nearly two decades.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ held a number of memorable press conferences during his two and a bit year tenure, including a bizarre rant on ‘football heritage’ before one FA Cup tie, and the memorable ‘respect man’ outburst after he felt the need to remind the media how many Premier League titles he had won following a 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Jose Mourinho spent just over two years as United boss (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Mourinho and the media never appeared to gel while at the Red Devils like they used to, he often wore the body language of a manger under pressure, which was made more evident with some of his spontaneous remarks in the lead up to big games.

This was never more evident than after a 2-0 home win against Crystal Palace – the last game before Mourinho travelled to Stockholm with his United side to meet Ajax in the Europa League final.

Welcoming the Eagles to Old Trafford, Mourinho’s behaviour on the day was erratic to say the least. The contest had a number of strange sub-plots, such as the introduction of then-21-year-old midfielder Josh Harrop who fired United in the lead with a debut Premier League goal.

Josh Harrop scored 16 minutes into his Premier League career on his United debut
Josh Harrop scored 16 minutes into his Premier League career on his United debut

Harrop was one of four debutants to be handed their first start on the day, as Mourinho opted to take a relaxed approach to the tie – naming the youngest United line-up in Premier League history, with an average age of 22 years and 284 days.

Bizarrely, despite scoring just 16 minutes into his first team career, Harrop never featured for United in the Premier League again, rejecting a contract offer a year later and now plies his trade for Preston North End.

Before the end of the game, more history was made as Angel Gomes, now of Lille, replaced captain Wayne Rooney to become the club’s youngest ever Premier League player at 16 years and 263 days old. This made Gomes the first ever player to be born after 2000 to feature in a Premier League game.

Mourinho remains the last man to win a trophy for Manchester United after the Europa League glory of 2017
Mourinho remains the last man to win a trophy for Manchester United after the Europa League glory of 2017

However, it was only after the game that Mourinho’s behaviour drew attention – the Portuguese technically did fulfil his media duties, but in the form of a 20-second press conference where zero questions were asked.

This is because Mourinho opted to head to the press room while the majority of the media remained pitch-side watching Wayne Rooney bid farewell to the Old Trafford faithful in what was his last home appearance for United after an illustrious career.

Mourinho was greeted by no more than four members of the press as he sat down alongside United’s press officer, he asked if there were any questions, nobody stepped up, Mourinho said “good”, stood up, added “bye guys” and left as quickly as he arrived.

Man United's former and current boss met earlier this year when Solksjaer's United took on Mourinho's Tottenham.
Man United’s former and current boss met earlier this year when Solksjaer’s United took on Mourinho’s Tottenham.

Rumours suggest he had left the stadium by 17:15, just over 25 minutes from the full-time whistle.

He remained as stand-offish with the club’s own in-house media team, telling MUTV: “Don’t ask me too many things because now I am in the final, let me go home.”

United went on to beat Ajax in Sweden to ensure they returned home with another European honour, but most Red Devils’ fans will be hoping current boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer ensures all pre-match talk remains solely about the contest rather than off-field press conference antics when he prepares to take on Villarreal in this year’s Europa League final.

United will meet the La Liga outfit, managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, on May 26 in Gdansk, Poland.




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