The celebration in London is still ongoing almost 24 hours after Chelsea won the FA Cup; beating Manchester United by a lone goal at Wembley.
Chelsea's win was a product of some dogged defending – a style made more popular by Jose Mourinho.
Yet, on Saturday, after a particularly harrowing ninety minutes of football at the Wembley, Mourinho ended up on the losing side, his Manchester United side subjected to a fine display of 'parking the bus' by Chelsea who have
otherwise underperformed the whole season.
Although Antonio Conte enhanced his reputation as ‘a serial winner’ by winning his first ever domestic cup competition in the 137th FA Cup final, his future at the London club remains uncertain after he failed to guide Chelsea to Champions League qualification next season.
The FA Cup final was a painful watch for modernists who live by the philosophy of attacking football, but it was a portrayal of English football at its orthodox best – rigid tactical systems, lack of ground-breaking ideas in the attacking third and last-ditch defending.
Except, Eden Hazard did not get the memo. As Phil Jones suffered yet another brain-freeze moment in the 21st minute of the cup final, Hazard collected Cesc Fabregas’ curling pass to drive straight at the heart of the United defence
, forcing Jones to lunge into a tackle and concede a penalty.
In a moment which could foreshadow England’s fate during their upcoming meeting against Belgium in the FIFA World Cup, Hazard put Chelsea in the lead, the solitary-goal advantage proving too much to overcome for Mourinho’s disjointed band of highly-paid footballers, some of them the finest talents of their national teams.
“I congratulate them because they won but I don't think they deserved to win. I think we deserved to win, we were the better team but that's football. It’s disappointing,” Mourinho told reporters after the match, but his side was far from the ruthless teams Mourinho have come to be associated with.
N’Golo Kante, alongside Bakayoko, who has slowly grown into his role in Chelsea's midfield in the past few weeks, outclassed the United midfield trio of Pogba, Ander Herrera and
Nemanja Matic even as Fabregas struggled to find his rhythm.
“I’m very satisfied because today it was very difficult to win the FA Cup against a really great team like Man United so we must be pleased. It wasn’t easy but I’m very happy for our fans and my players. They deserve this win, to win an important trophy in a season which was very difficult for many reasons,” Conte may be uncertain of his immediate future but there is no denying that he pulled one over his arch nemesis in England.
Both clubs will face rebuilding in summer, yet their respective manager's job securities are a point of irony – the FA Cu
winning Conte faces the axe while trophyless Mourinho will be afforded another shot.
The FA Cup final
was a testament to the gulf in playing style which has developed among the likes of City and Liverpool with that of Chelsea and United, and perhaps their managers' footballing philosophies resulting in the varying fortunes of these clubs in England and Europe this season.
The revolving managerial door at Chelsea has never stood in the path of silverware, but Chelsea must reinvent themselves and bring in reinforcements to not only match up to the title contenders,
but to also keep the likes of Hazard and Courtois at the club. United, on the contrary, need to find a semblance of identity to convert their close finishes to victory and to reclaim their status as an elite club.