What I told my players to win Europa League - Mourinho

Europa League By: Linus Onyeze | 14/06/2017

Jose Mourinho kisses the Europa League trophy which they won last month.Jose Mourinho kisses the Europa League trophy which they won last month.

Jose Mourinho has revealed what he told his Manchester United players especially Chris Smalling which helped Manchester United win the Europa League against Ajax.

The Portuguese also revealed he watched the Dutch team eight times before the final which was played at the Friend’s Arena in Stockholm in Sweden.

In quotes attributed to Portuguese publication Tribuna Expresso, Mourinho revealed how he turned to his assistant Rui Faria and shook his hand after 80 minutes against the Dutch side, knowing the game was won.

The United boss told his United players to target young Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt while instructing his own centre-back, Chris Smalling, not to play out from the back.

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These revelations have been made as Mourinho was speaking as a guest lecturer at Lisbon's Faculdade de Motricidade Humana University, and was happy to disclose parts of his tactical approach as United won 2-0 at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Mourinho reportedly told MA students on a day dedicated to high performance football coaching: “I watched eight Ajax matches. In England, I tend to watch two to three matches because I already know the opponent, but not in Europe. To me, analysing the opponent is key because the way I practice and play is influenced by it.

“We wanted to create instability. We would let them play out from the back while blocking De Ligt, their right centre-back, making them play through Davinson Sanchez who had more trouble.”

Mourinho had made it known in his press conferences that his side went into the Europa League final after a gruelling 67-game season with just 15 fully fit players, and the manager has now revealed how his training sessions were fixed on Ajax during the run-in.

In the morning, he would carry out a 20-minute video analysis session of his side's next opponents (on the first day leading up to the game, he composed a dossier of his rival's offensive qualities, turning to their defensive organisation on the second day and tactics on day three).

After breakfast, he would conduct a 75-minute training session and tell his players precisely what he wants to see in the upcoming game. After lunch, Mourinho would return to his office for another 20-minute session with statistical analysis of his opponents and the strategies they would adopt.

Each day included a 75-minute training session followed by a 20-minute statistical analysis of opponent and their strategies

Mourinho added: “We'd make our full-back close down well that central space and if the ball entered a wide area for their winger, the full-back would close him down and Herrera would be the one covering that space in midfield.

"But what matters is that my players understand we cannot have doubts there - defensive creativity only in emergency situations.

“We prepare a game better when we're aware of our own weaknesses. Everyone said Ajax played beautiful football and that the beauty of the game matters and bla, bla, bla. I told my players that, for me, beautiful is not giving our opponents what they want.

“I even joked with Smalling – ‘With your feet, we're for sure not playing out from the back!"