Jose Mourinho and the EFL Cup is one love story that will never get divorced. The Portuguese manager has won the competition three times, while winning on Sunday would take him into exalted company with the likes of Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson.
The legendary tacticians won the cup four times, and Jose will love nothing more than to kick start his Old Trafford career with yet another trophy. He first announced himself in the competition with an extra time victory against Liverpool in 2005, which announced him on the English trophy scale and catapulted Chelsea to a new era of dominance in the country.
The scale of seriousness the Portuguese takes the competition is worth emulating. Other managers treat the cup with contempt, taking it as a meaningless tournament but not Mourinho.
He regularly fields quality players in the early rounds, meaning that he values the tournament. Against Southampton on Sunday, his team are overwhelming favourites and should win the trophy, but Clause Puel’s team completely dominated Liverpool tactically in the semifinals.
Winning the League Cup will be significant for Jose, as he aims to build a winning mentality at the club, something that has been missing since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
United have been in imperious form in recent months, overcoming the tactical variations left behind by the Louis Van Gaal era which threatened to derail their season early on.
Mourinho will be instructing his players not to lose focus for a single moment, and his records in finals is exemplary.He has only lost twice in domestic and continental finals, a 2013 Copa Del Rey final to a Thibaut Courtois-inspired Atletico Madrid and a 2004 Taca de Portugal final.
Jose’s tactical preparation for games like this means he will have specific plans to halt Southampton’s key men. Bring out the champagne, the Jose trophy onslaught has started…