/ 26 May 2017

Pragmatism vs poetry

(Andrew Couldridge)
In saving Mourinho's job, at least for now, a rousing second-half display at Old Trafford was in some ways an indictment of his time in charge. (Andrew Couldridge/Reuters)

Manchester United manager José Mourinho said his side’s season had been a triumph of pragmatism over poetry following their Europa League success against Ajax in Stockholm.

In a match scarred by the terror attack in Manchester, United prevailed 2-0 to win the tournament for the first time.

Mourinho has received criticism for the quality of United’s football, but he finishes his maiden season with three trophies and a place in next season’s Champions League.

“The poets are the ones that win every match,” he said. “Some guys win every time and I don’t. But in a bad season … we won three trophies.

“So the season was the victory of pragmatism and the people who respect the opponent and try to exploit the opponents’ weakness. Based on pragmatism and humble principles. Not poets.”

A two-time European champion with Porto and Inter Milan, Mourinho once declared he didn’t want to win the Europa League. He has now won the tournament twice, having led Porto to glory in the Uefa Cup — as the Europa League was previously called — in 2003.

Beaten coach Peter Bosz said United “only played long balls and didn’t take any risks”, turning Ajax’s first European final in 21 years into “a boring game”.

But he fielded the youngest team ever to start a major European final, so he acknowledged: “For all the players, this was the first final. You have to learn from it.” — AFP