José Mourinho savours Manchester United glory but pragmatism has limits| Jonathan Wil

Jonathan Wilson

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Aug 1, 2010
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Victory over Ajax showed again Mourinho’s knack for thwarting gifted opponents but fans of a club of United’s means are entitled to pine for more poetryAs Manchester United’s players celebrated with the Europa League trophy, José Mourinho brandished a red flag. He walked in front of his squad and tried to plant it into the pitch. The pole, though, was too flimsy and bent, leaving Mourinho to prop the flag awkwardly against a hoarding reading “Stockholm Final 2017”. As a metaphor for his first season at United it could hardy have been bettered: grand gestures thwarted but the job eventually, just about, done.
It was a night replete with symbolism. Deep into injury-time at the Friends Arena on Wednesday night, the Ajax winger Amin Younes picked up the ball on the left. He glanced up and had just made as though to jink inside when he was clattered by the horizontal form of Wayne Rooney making an effective if clunking challenge that put the ball out for a throw-in. That it could be his last ever touch in a United shirt felt hugely appropriate; he has throughout most of his career had a pleasing commitment to the necessary but unglamorous work.
Related: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba sets up Europa League final win over Ajax
Related: Lack of a Plan B for Ajax costs them dear when chasing Europa League final | Michael ***
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