NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on February 11, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images)

FA Cup final: Who’s saying what ahead of Saturday’s showdown?

Both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte really need this, maybe the Blues boss a little more.


NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on February 11, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images)

There has been no shortage of chit-chat ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Both teams have one last chance to add silverware this season and try as they may, United boss Jose Mourinho and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte are both desperate to leave Wembley as champions.

The Blues might need it slightly more considering their current situation as doubts over Conte’s future continue to swirl. But the 48-year-old Italian insists that Saturday’s outcome shouldn’t determine his way forward with the club.

Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League and the FA Cup final in his debut season in England last year.

However, in a much more troublesome season on and off the pitch, as Conte clashed with the club’s hierarchy, a fifth-placed league finish to miss out even on Champions League qualification means the Italian is widely expected to leave no matter what happens on Saturday.

Conte, flashing his trademark smile every now and then, came across as anything but a defeated man on Friday.

I like to win. I like to win trophies. I like to be a winner. For sure, I like this. But, at the same time, I think that when you work very hard, when you try to give every day 120 percent, you must be satisfied. Miracles don’t always happen. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it didn’t. We did an important job. Then it’s not my task to take the decision.

Conte’s squad have struggled to cope with the demands of four competitions and big money signings like Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko have failed to fill the void left by Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Conte, who has been very critical of Chelsea’s recruitment strategy last summer, says those responsible for assembling the squad should also share some of the blame for a disappointing season.

In every season you must divide the responsibility, positive or negative, with three parts: club, manager and players,” he added.

“We divided this big win with the players and with the club. Now, this season, we finished fifth. We have to play another final in the FA Cup, and we must divide the responsibility with the club, the manager and the players in the same way.”

The former Juventus and Italy coach has one more year left on his contract and has vehemently defended his record at Stamford Bridge.

(Last season) we were heroes for Chelsea’s fans. Now our status, me and the players, has changed? I don’t know. But in my soul and my heart, I’m always a hero because I gave 120 percent also this season to solve the problems.

While the Blues boss waits to hear his fate, Jose Mourinho hasn’t disappointed in the entertainment stakes ahead of the final on Saturday evening.

The former Chelsea manager claims he doesn’t hate Blues fans no matter how much stick they might give him at Wembley.

Mourinho remains the most successful boss in Chelsea’s history after winning three Premier League titles, as well as the three League Cups and one FA Cup, during his two spells with the west London club.

But some Chelsea supporters no longer show the same gratitude and adulation to Mourinho as they did when he won the team’s first English title for 50 years in 2005.

Mourinho angered Blues fans by joining their rivals United and the tension boiled over when Chelsea won a fiery FA Cup quarter-final between the sides at Stamford Bridge last season.

Mourinho, twice sacked by Chelsea, was branded a “Judas” by supporters who sang “you’re not special any more”, to which the Portuguese coach responded by saying “Judas is still number one” in a reminder to his tormentors of how successful he had been with their club.

Ahead of this weekend’s clash, ‘The Special One’ refused to be drawn into any further bickering, pay tribute to the fans who supported himd despite being sacked.

The only thing I say in relation to Chelsea supporters is since my first day in 2004 until my last day when I was sacked a couple of years ago they were with me unconditionally. They were with me every day, even on the two days I was sacked. That I will never forget. They did what I think great supporters do, they support their manager unconditionally until the last day.

Mourinho has also said that winning the FA Cup or not shouldn’t define their season in which the Red Devils finished a distant 19 points behind Premier League champions Manchester City.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United scores his side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 10, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

In contrast, forward Marcus Rashford says Manchester United can use a FA Cup final victory over Chelsea as the perfect platform for a strong start to next season.

The 20-year-old England international believes a record-equalling 13th FA Cup triumph will serve as a huge boost for his team.

It’s got massive importance for us. Finishing the season off with a trophy is always good and would put us in good spirits for next season.

I think the most important thing is winning that trophy to put us in good stead and, mentally, I always say you don’t want to go a season without winning something. That’s my determination – to try to win something each year. Hopefully, we can get one this year.

Previous winners of the FA Cup:

2017: Arsenal

2016: Manchester United

2015: Arsenal

2014: Arsenal

2013: Wigan Athletic

2012: Chelsea

2011: Manchester City

2010: Chelsea

2009: Chelsea

2008: Portsmouth

2007: Chelsea

2006: Liverpool

2005: Arsenal

2004: Manchester United

2003: Arsenal

2002: Arsenal

2001: Liverpool

2000: Chelsea

Read: FA Cup final: Blues boss ready to give peace a chance