Pogba and José dedicate United win to Manchester attack victims
‘We played for England, for Manchester, and we played for the people who died’
Paul Pogba raises his hands to the sky after Manchester United’s Europa League win over Ajax at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters/Livepic
José Mourinho stated his hope that Manchester United’s success in Wednesday night’s Europa League final had brought some happiness to the city following the terrorist bombing at the Manchester Arena, while the midfielder Paul Pogba dedicated the victory over Ajax to “England, Manchester and the people who died”.
Pogba scored the 18th-minute opener, via a deflection, before Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the lead for a 2-0 win over the Dutch side in Stockholm. It came two days after the terrorist attack that killed 22 people, some children, and injured scores more.
Mourinho said: “You know, it was really hard, that is why we didn’t want to have the press conference (before the final) because we had to prepare ourselves to do our job and to try to organise events that are much more important than our job. But the world goes on and does not stop and we have to do our work.
“I agree with Uefa’s decision to play the match now. It obviously takes happiness from our achievement. If we could we would change peoples lives for this cup – we would not think twice. Does this cup make the city of Manchester a bit happier? Maybe.
“But we came to do our job and we can’t avoid the happiness because when you win you go away happy and proud. The boys were fantastic. They put on a block and stayed away from everything and concentrated on a football match, which we did very well.”
Pogba, their world-record £89m summer signing, said: “We know things like this are very sad, all over the world. We had to focus, it was very important. We won for Manchester, we worked for them, for the country. We play for England, for Manchester and for the people who died.”
Ander Herrera, voted the man of the match, said the club had been suffering on Tuesday, but echoed Pogba’s sentiments. “Yesterday morning we were devastated,” the midfielder said. “We were really sad because you think of life and football – you have no choice. It was difficult to train but the manager told us the only thing we could do is win this for them and that is what we have done. It is just a football game and a trophy but if we can help and support with this just 1 per cent it is enough for us.”
Afterwards the victorious team and Mourinho posed by a large banner that read “Manchester – A City United”.
The victory means United have won every European club competition and will compete in next season’s Champions League competition. Mourinho has also won the club two major trophies in his first season after lifting the EFL Cup in February.
He also aimed a barb at those managers he described as “poets” who do not win anything. “There are lots of poets in football, the poets don’t win many titles, we knew where they were better than us, and us better than them,” he said.
“It is the end of a difficult season but a very good season, we prefer this way than finish fourth. We win a title, an important title, that closes the lot – we have now won every (European) title in world football.”
Mourinho’s tally is two Champions League and two Europa Leagues, having also won the latter when it was the Uefa Cup.
He said: “I am very humble when I play finals. I make my final respect the strength of the opponent and understand their weakness so if I say something about my finals, something about my team is they are always humble.
“Now I don’t want to see any football, or any international friendlies. It was hard to organise this last couple of months, very hard, short on numbers, trying to rest players, trying not to have very bad results. The kids were amazing,
“(They) managed to finish with some dignity. Three trophies in season (he includes the Community Shield). I am really happy with players after my most difficult season as a manager.”
The manager indicated Wayne Rooney, a late substitute, could stay. “He can be here next season and he is an important player. If he stays I am happy,” the manager said.