Chelsea vs Manchester Utd: 5 things we learned from the FA Cup Final

Back-to-back FA Cup finalists Chelsea lifted this year's trophy in what could be Antonio Conte's final game as manager.

REUTERS/David Klein

Jose Mourinho was left empty-handed in his second season for the first-ever time in his career as Eden Hazard’s first half penalty proved decisive in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Hazard darted past England centre-back Phil Jones towards the near post of David de Gea’s goal, perhaps emblematic of what may follow when England play Belgium at the World Cup, before being brought down by Jones’ mistimed tackle.

Alexis Sanchez had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, whilst midfielder Paul Pogba wasted the Red Devils’ best chance of the game when he headed wide from an unmarked position in the centre of the box.

RealSport look at five things we learned from a dull final at Wembley.

  1. 1 The importance of Red Rom

    REUTERS/Lee Smith

    After Manchester United's 1-0 defeat to Brighton at the beginning of the month, for which Romelu Lukaku was injured, Mourinho commented:

    "For 10 months I get asked 'why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku? Why always this player? You know why now."

    The Belgian was only fit enough for the bench on Saturday and the impacts of his absence were as plain as day.

    Mourinho chose Marcus Rashford to deputise in his place and the England international lacked Lukaku's natural physicality and failed to establish himself as a presence against Chelsea's three centre-backs in their compact low block.

    I knew without a target man it would be difficult for us.

    Without Lukaku, United lacked a focal point for their attack and consequently seemed aimless. 

    Mourinho played a style of football that suited Lukaku, not Rashford, and a change in tactic perhaps would have heralded a different result.

  2. 2 Reconcilable differences

    REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

    Saturday's victory may well have been Antonio Conte's final game as Chelsea manager, with the Italian looking increasingly likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

    If Conte does leave, he leaves a successful legacy, having guided Chelsea from tenth to Premier League champions and FA Cup winners.

    Whilst Willian showed little reluctance to air the club's dirty laundry in public with his childish Instagram post, the differences between Conte and his squad don't seem completely irreconcilable.

    Ultimately, the Italian had a victorious stint and he's capable of further success if his players rally behind him. 

    He clearly still has the necessary man-management skills to motivate and inspire his players and there must be some lingering respect for their title-winning manager.

    Perhaps Conte, the board and the squad can put their differences aside.

  3. 3 Magic mirror on the wall...

    REUTERS/David Klein

    ...who now is the fairest one of all? Not Manchester United, that's for certain.

    Just like dogs come to resemble the personalities of their owners, so too do football clubs. The Red Devils' performance against Chelsea was the epitome of how Mourinho conducts himself as a person.

    Sulky, morose and turgid.

    Mourinho has lost the ability that once made him so great, with Saturday's performance a reflection of that and a change could well be in the offing at Old Trafford.

    The Portuguese has let go of assistant Rui Faria and a change in ideas could be beneficial. Perhaps now someone will question his decisions and provide the impetus for a change.

  4. 4 The difference

    REUTERS/Andrew Yates

    There's plenty to say about Manchester United's flat performance but the truth is Chelsea weren't much better. Conte inspired a victory, which is salient, but the overall performance was, nonetheless, average.

    The difference, though, was the performance of the Blues' key man; Eden Hazard. The Belgian was one of the best player on the pitch and his goal won Chelsea the cup.

    By contrast, Alexis Sanchez was poor yet again, as he still struggles to find his feet in Manchester, whilst former transfer fee world record holder Paul Pogba headed wide with United's best chance of the game.

    For instance, Hazard made the most dribbles (7) of any player, whilst Sanchez (7) and Pogba (6) lost possession more times than anybody else.

  5. 5 A sign of things to come

    REUTERS/Andrew Yates

    Phil Jones would have done nothing to ease Gareth Southgate's nerves ahead of the impending World Cup after an unnecessarily clumsy foul resulted in the game's winning goal.

    With Hazard darting into the box and sending Jones every which way, the centre-back recklessly fouled him even though de Gea was covering the near post and likely would have saved his effort.

    Hazard had the beating of Jones all afternoon and will likely see him again when Belgium play England in Russia. What's more, Jones is arguably the more capable of the three English centre-backs playing at Wembley.

    On this note, the effects of playing for a highly critical, distrusting manager were clear to see in Rashford's performance. The 20-year-old was devoid of confidence and Mourinho's management has allowed hesitancy to creep into his game.

    Southgate will have work to do to bring the best out of these two this summer.

    What did we miss? Let us know by commenting below.

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Oli Stein