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Jose Mourinho's extraordinary finals record and more FA Cup talking points

Plus, the Portuguese coach and Antonio Conte let bygones be bygones.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Image: Adam Davy

Updated at 16.08

1. Conte and Mourinho let bygones be bygones

JOSE MOURINHO AND Antonio Conte clearly were not on the best of terms not so long ago.

The ill feeling between the two became so strong last January that Mourinho said he will never be “suspended for match-fixing”.

The quip was an obvious reference to the controversy that saw Conte receive a four-month suspension while managing Juventus, dating back to his stint at Siena, when he failed to report an incident of match-fixing.

Despite Mourinho’s suggestions to the contrary, the Italian boss in 2016 was cleared by a court of any wrongdoing.

The argument had escalated, after the Portuguese coach effectively called Conte a “clown” for his actions in the technical area.

“I think he has to see himself in the past — maybe he was speaking about himself in the past,” Conte replied, while using the phrase “demenza senile,” which translates as senile dementia, in reference to Mourinho.

Yet the pair appear to have let bygones be bygones.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s cup final, Conte, in relation to previous rows with Mourinho, told reporters:

“This is not important, what happened [in the past].

“There is a relationship between me and him [Mourinho]. Tomorrow I will shake his hand and both of us will think of the game.”

2. Can Lukaku return to haunt his former club?

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Emirates FA Cup - Semi Final - Wembley Stadium Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United. Source: EMPICS Sport

It’s been an interesting season for Romelu Lukaku. In the league, he has scored 16 goals in 34 appearances, which is by no means a bad return (his Everton season-by-season record reads 15, 10, 18, 25), while he managed 32 goals in all competitions this campaign.

Yet it still feels as if he hasn’t been fully embraced at Old Trafford so far.

There has even been some criticism from a section of the club’s support for the striker. Back in October, Jose Mourinho said:  “I would like the supporters to explain to me why they don’t support him so much because he gives everything and I think it is not fair when scoring the goal or not scoring the goal makes the whole difference.”

Perhaps it is to do with the fact that, despite his impressive overall goalscoring feats, Lukaku has struggled to impress during several big games since joining the Red Devils.

He has only scored once against any of the sides in the top seven this season — in United’s 2-1 win over Chelsea back in February.

Yet should the striker win his fitness race for this weekend’s fixture, a decisive goal would surely go some way towards quashing the reservations certain fans still seem to have about the 25-year-old player.

3. Can Chelsea overcome United and cup final specialist Mourinho?

The bookies have Man United as slight favourites for Saturday’s match.

In addition to their superior Premier League form, a big reason for the majority of people tipping a United victory is Mourinho’s incredible record in cup finals.

The Portuguese coach’s style of football is not always particularly attractive to watch, but there are few managers in world football that are more reliable at winning one-off games.

Since guiding Porto to victory over Martin O’Neill’s Celtic in 2003, Mourinho has won 12 of the 14 cup finals he has been involved in.

His pragmatic approach to these encounters may not earn him the kind of accolades that managerial rival Pep Guardiola has been receiving amid Man City’s scintillating season, but there is no doubting its efficacy.

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Paul Fennessy

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